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New York News

Albany Kicks Off LGBTQ Pride Month

Common Councilmember Richard Conti moments after Mayor Kathy Sheehan announced the annual event will now be named the “Richard Conti Pride Flag Raising Day.”
Jackie Orchard
/
WAMC
Common Councilmember Richard Conti moments after Mayor Kathy Sheehan announced the annual event will now be named the “Richard Conti Pride Flag Raising Day.” ";s:

June kicked off with the annual Pride Flag Raising event at Albany City Hall today – and a longtime local leader was honored as part of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month.

The Pride Center of the Capital Region Board President John Daniels hosted the flag-raising.

“Today we started Pride Month emerging from a pandemic of which no one in this generation had ever experienced before,” Daniels said. “One that especially has hurt the LGBTQ community and the marginalized community. We start a celebration honoring 51 years of history of wins and losses, but more importantly, the greater respect and learning that we are not defined by how we identify, but how we live, love and respect each other.”

Pride flags were raised Tuesday morning at Albany City Hall.
Credit Jackie Orchard / WAMC
/
WAMC
Pride flags were raised Tuesday morning at Albany City Hall.

On Hudson Avenue, The Pride Center of the Capital Region is the oldest LGBTQ community center in the country – established in 1970. COVID-19 meant the Center couldn’t mark the milestone last year.

On Tuesday, Democratic state Senator Neil Breslin presented the organization a $25,000 check, saying the Center was a refuge to those struggling with mental health and isolation during the pandemic.

“But without the funding we fall behind,” Breslin said. “So this amount will hopefully be a starting point for a drive to make sure that the Pride Center will be what it always has been: a support system for others to make it a fair and better place to be.”

Outgoing Common Councilmember Richard Conti shared his experience of coming out in 1987, a decade before being elected to the council from the 6th Ward. Conti says he came out during a public hearing at City Hall, after the introduction of the Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Ordinance.

Conti spoke while a group protested the use of face masks nearby.

“We celebrate June as Pride Month in memory of the Stonewall uprising of 1969,” Conti said. “And the pride flags we raised today represent the diversity of our community, and resign that yes, we are now welcome at City Hall.”

Democratic Mayor Kathy Sheehan says the annual event will now be named the “Richard Conti Pride Flag Raising Day.”  

“He established the city of Albany Human Rights Commission and expanded non-discrimination laws to include gender identity and expression and the prohibition in discrimination in city contracts and grant awards,” Sheehan said. “He was the lead sponsor of resolutions placing the Council on record in support of marriage equality, and legislation establishing enhanced penalties for bias motivated violence.”

“In Our Own Voices” Chief Executive Director Tandra LaGrone.
Credit Jackie Orchard / WAMC
/
WAMC
“In Our Own Voices” Chief Executive Director Tandra LaGrone.

Albany’s “In Our Own Voices” organization represents people of color in LGBTQ communities. Chief Executive Director Tandra LaGrone said this month is a time for allies to look inward.

“What does pride mean to you,” LaGrone said. “What are you going to do those other days outside of June? How are you showing up for others? And that's the challenge that I want you to leave here and embrace outside of just Pride Month. What am I doing? How am I showing up?”

To learn more about all the June Pride Events in the Capital Region go to www.518capitalpride.com