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Queens Pride has new purpose amid gay marriage debate

One could say Queens Pride runs right through Jackson Heights and means both the spirit of the borough and the popular gay parade. The sentiment is even truer this year as the gay, lesbian and transgender community is abuzz about the possibility of New York legalizing same−sex marriage.

This year’s theme for Sunday’s event is “Your Rights, Our Rights, Human Rights,” said Daniel Dromm, parade founder and organizer.

“It states that everybody has a stake in LGBT rights, and I think for that reason, it’s really appropriate this year,” Dromm said.

The parade kicks off at noon at the intersection of 37th Avenue and 89th Street, traveling along 37th to 75th street.

A festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on 37th Road between 73rd and 77th streets.

Performers this year include the ACQC Youth Co., the Metropolitan Community Church Choir, the Cinemarosa Dance Production, Diosas De Atlantis, the Enigma Dance Troupe, the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, and recording artists Ahmond, Lovari, Kelso, Mimi Imfurst, India M., Jason Walker, amberRose Marie and Lumidee.

A number of elected officials are expected to attend the parade, including U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D−Forest Hills), who was named grand marshal along with Jackson Heights artist Hector Canonge and the Rev. Pat Bumgardner, pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church.

Weiner, who has walked in the parade for a decade, said he was proud to serve as grand marshal.

“I look forward to the day when New York reasserts its rightful place as a national leader on civil rights and extends basic human dignity to all,” he said.

Before starting his queer film program Cinemarosa, Canonge, an Astoria native, did documentary work shooting the parade.

“It’s quite an honor to have been selected,” he said. “It really shows that the work that I’ve been doing with the queer community in Queens has been somehow noted.”

The event was started in 1993 by gay rights advocates outraged by comments by School Board 24 President Mary Cummins.

Now that same−sex marriage is again on the legislative horizon, Dromm said he would not be surprised to see a handful of protesters — the parade has had visits from Christian and Muslim groups in the past — but he was not concerned.

“This has become very much a tradition in Jackson Heights, and it’s really accepted by people who live there,” he said. “It’s really a family parade. People bring their children to see the drag queens dancing on the floats.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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