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CNY Pride Celebration Tempered by Mass Shooting in Orlando

Jeremiah Thompson

  The raising of a rainbow flag in front of city hall elicited applause from the somber crowd gathered to mark the beginning of CNY Pride Week.  What is usually a festive event was tempered by the tragedy in Florida over the weekend.

Pride Month was created in large part to memorialize the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York City, which gave rise to the modern LGBT rights movement. Despite the progress made in the nearly fifty years since then, the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando is a stark reminder of the threats still faced by the LGBT community.  CNY Pride Vice President Bob Forbes sees the shooting as a painful reminder of persistent inequality.

"We do not have equal rights," Forbes said. "There are still people who look at individuals differently.  There's no need to look at individuals differently.  We are all human.  We all deserve the same equal rights."

With a number of Pride events scheduled throughout the city this week, Forbes expresses concern that similar violence could occur here.

 "A lot of concern is what is going to happen at our festival, because that's one of our largest gathering places," Forbes said.  "Would there possibly be an attack, or would someone look at something there."

Credit Jeremiah Thompson / WAER News
CNY Pride VP Bob Forbes addresses the crowd gathered for the flag raising.

CNY Pride President Jayme Martin believes the best antidote to violence and hatred is education.

"The work we need to keep on doing is education," Martin said.  "We need to educate the young, and we also need to educate the greater community.  There are some people who don't know someone who is LGBT and are unaware of the struggles we actually face day to day.  Education and communication...that's what needs to be improved and needs to go forward."

  Forbes hopes that friends and allies will step up and show support in the face of this tragedy.    

"Come to our events and be more supportive," Martin said.  "It's even more of a reason to be supportive to our community.   If we have more individuals who are supportive to our community, we're providing a safer space for everyone."

More information about Pride Week events can be found at

Credit Jeremiah Thompson / WAER News
A large crowd gathers for the raising of the rainbow flag in front of city hall.