Pride Week marks 11th anniversary of ground-breaking New Paltz weddings

Village of New Paltz mayor Jason West – who famously kick-started the local Gay Pride movement during his first term by performing same-sex marriages of debatable legality – is about to leave office again, but gay rights activists have plenty of other things to celebrate at the moment. Expect a lot of love for all things Irish to be on display at the Pride March and Festival in New Paltz on Sunday, June 7, in honor of last week’s plebiscite that came down solidly on the side of letting gay and lesbian couples marry in that country.

New Paltz mayor Jason West, standing in the Peace Park by Village Hall, moments before the now-historic same-sex marriage ceremonies on February 27, 2004. (photo by Julie O’Connor)

Though the event was originally inspired by New Paltz’s brief stint as the same-sex-marriage capital of New York State – and the subsequent angry antics of protestors who flocked to town – the Pride March has taken on a countywide life of its own and expanded to a week’s worth of celebrations, performances, workshops, teach-ins and panel discussions. The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center in Uptown Kingston has become the epicenter of the activities earlier in the week, but it still all culminates in New Paltz on the second weekend. For $25, you can obtain a Pride Pass that’ll get you into all the events that have an entry fee.

Hudson Valley Pride Week 2015, whose theme is “Transforming Lives for a New Decade,” begins this Saturday, May 30 on a serious note with Family Pride Day. Workshops on adoption and foster parenting for same-sex couples will be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the LGBTQ Center, located at 300 Wall Street. On Tuesday, June 2 at 7 p.m., the Center will host a panel discussion titled “Building Bridges to Transform Lives,” featuring So Brown, Cheyenne Schoonmaker, Vanessa Shelmandine, Ken Walsh and Greg Whelan.

On Wednesday beginning at 8:30 p.m., the Anchor on Broadway in Kingston hosts Pride Week Open-Mic Night. On Thursday at 7 p.m., the Center will screen the film Pride, concerning a group of lesbian and gay activists who help families affected by the British miners’ strike. On Friday at 7 p.m., it’s time for the traditional Teen Dance at the Center, inviting gay, lesbian, transgendered and allied youth ages 13 to 18.

Events on Saturday, June 6, begin in Kingston with a Board of Directors’ meeting and reception at the Center from 6 to 7:30 p.m., honoring Retts Scauzillo as Grand Marshal for the Pride March and Gene Knapp as Volunteer of the Year. Then the action shifts to Novella’s in New Paltz, where the Pride Party gets underway at 8:30 p.m. with Deejay PrePhab spinning the platters. Beginning at 9 p.m. there will be live cabaret performances featuring Lady Alchemy, the Queen City Dancers, Kingston’s Very Own Lady Esther Gin, Bear Donna, the Drag Brigade and Retts Scauzillo channeling Frank Sinatra. Admission costs $20, or $10 with student ID.

Pride Week winds up as always with the Pride March and Festival on Sunday, June 7. Marchers, many of them imaginatively costumed, will gather at 12 noon at the New Paltz Middle School and step it off down Main Street at 1 p.m. sharp, headed for Hasbrouck Park. There, the Festival will follow until 4 p.m. with food, vendors, family activities, singers So Brown and Mike Hamel and deejaying by John Martin. Those who still aren’t done partying by that point can convene at Bacchus afterwards for a special Pride Week Happy Hour.
For more information about the schedule and entry fees, or to purchase a Pride Pass or Pride 2015 tee-shirt, visit



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