By Thomas Scott
On Saturday, April 12, the LGBTQ Pride Parade was held at Union. This was the third annual Pride Parade held at Union.
The event was hosted by Rev. Moonhawk River Stone, chair of the commission’s LGBTQ committee, and held in conjunction with the Schenectady County Human Rights Commission.
Participants gathered outside of Memorial Chapel approximately half an hour before the festivities began to register and talk among themselves.
Head of Student Allies for Equality Kylie Gorski ’16 noted that the LGBTQ community was “here to tell our own personal stories.”
Gorksi continued, “The event’s main goal was to represent ourselves to the community but recognize that, as a community, there’s diversity within us.”
The event attracted attention from local, state and event federal officials.
State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk read a statement to the crowd, which commended the Schenectady County Human Rights Commission “for raising awareness of LGBTQ concerns.”
After further positive remarks from Human Rights Commission Director Angelica Morris, rally participants assembled on the steps of Memorial Chapel for a few photos before setting off toward Union Avenue with a great deal of fanfare.
A policeman on a motorcycle escorted rally participants throughout the event.
Participants walked out of Union onto Library Lane, and then turned right at Union Street.
They proceeded to walk down Union Avenue and then turned right again at North Jay Street.
The crowd reached the Mohawk Hudson Bikeway, which cuts behind the field at College Park Hall, just in time to see the conclusion of a lacrosse game
The pride walkers then continued up the bike path until they reached Nott Street. Drivers enthusiastically honked their horns in support of the group.
Close to the entrance adjacent to Richmond Hall, a biker revved his engine as students and locals waved rainbow flags in his direction.
“The amount of support from the community as we were walking by was really fantastic,” remarked Alexandrea Safiq ’14.
Students then turned right onto Lenox Road and passed the up-campus fraternities and sororities.
Members of Greek organizations showed up to the walk in force, with Alpha Delta Lambda members stationed at virtually every corner, as well as a large number of participants from Sigma Delta Tau.
After briefly walking down Lenox Road, the group, consisting of at least a hundred individuals, turned left onto Avon Road and then turned right onto Wendell Avenue.
Members of the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady greeted pride walkers as they walked past the Congregation’s building.
The group then reached Union Avenue, where they turned right onto Union Avenue and passed Abbe Hall.
After making their way back to campus, the pride walkers walked down South Lane back to Memorial Chapel and were greeted by Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” WRUC played music for the event.
Congressional Representative Paul Tonko made an appearance at the event and made remarks to the crowd after the walk’s completion.
Tonko expressed his efforts to hurry to Union after speaking to the College Democrats of New York at SUNY Albany.
Tonko stayed for the rest of the rally, which included performances by the Step Club, the Eliphalets and the Dutch Pipers.
Tonko asserted that LGBTQ concerns are “the civil rights issue of our times.”
Democratic State Senate Candidate Madelyn Thorne also made an appearance at the event.
Thorne asserted that she is a “very strong supporter of LGBTQ rights and wants to get GENDA through the New York State Senate.”
Director of Multicultural Affairs Jason Benitez promoted the event throughout the entire week.
He stated, “what we hope to create in our students is not only finding a voice for yourself, but helping others find a voice.
“Sometimes the LGBTQ community members are marginalized and underserved,” Benitez continued.
He claimed that an event like the Pride Parade was “intended to draw attention and awareness to the issues and the challenges these members of our community have.
The annual Pride Parade illustrated the level of cooperation between student LGBTQ groups here at Union, the Office of Multicultural affairs and local groups, such as the Schenectady County Human Rights Commission.