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Troy kicks off pride month with flag raising

Officials in Troy gathered Monday to add a pride flag
Samantha Simmons
Officials in Troy gathered Monday to add a pride flag near city hall

Officials in Troy gathered Monday to add a new flag to their pole.

For the third year in a row, the city is recognizing June as Pride Month. The national recognition honors the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, which launched the modern gay rights movement.

Deputy Mayor Seamus Donnelly says the city is home to many LGBTQ+ communities and businesses. Donnelly says as a gay man, he’s glad to be in such a welcoming community.

“I try to do anything that I can show folks that you know, it can get better, you can build up to be someone in a leadership role, you can be someone that makes an impact not just on our own community, but others,” Donnelly said.

Pride Center of the Capital Region Executive Director Nathaniel Gray joined officials for the flag raising. Gray says the center is the nation’s longest continuously-operating LGBTQIA+ center, advocating since the height of the AIDS crisis. Gray says today, the nonprofit is focused on providing free mental healthcare for members of the queer community.

“We do over 100 hours a month of free mental health care and case management. It's entirely free,” Gray said. “And we find that that's critical, not even insurance because our transgender, non-conforming, non-binary friends, as well as a lot of young folks, which are over half of our clientele population, really struggle with finding accessible services that are affirming.”

Gray says communities shouldn’t be working alone to be diverse and inclusive.

“We go and train staff constantly on how to create affirming environments for their workers in order to make sure that their HR department isn't running afoul of these laws,” Gray said. “And so that's something that's critical. And the last thing it's always said, like, simple and it seems so boring, but just all places that advertise anything with people on it should be advertising queer people, too. If you're a foster care agency, have a picture of two moms in your waiting room. If you’re a youth serving organization, have a trans child on your brochure, right? Like we exist in every part of every community and we always have.”

Within city administration, Mayor Carmella Mantello has hired a Director of Diversity, Opportunity, and Outreach. They spearhead efforts to build relationships with youth and minority communities in the city. Mantello, a Republican, says she is proud of the city’s diversity.

“We are one Troy and we are 50,000-plus,” Mantello said. “We are diverse, we are proud, and we are proud of one Troy.”

Tandra LaGrone is the CEO of In Our Own Voices. The Albany-based nonprofit, works with LGBTQ+ people of color to strengthen their voices and ensure wellbeing. LaGrone says while communities are becoming more inclusive, many legislators in the nation are supporting bills that target LGBTQ+ people.

“These little small, this feels like small micro aggressions, but they're blatant,” LaGrone said. “And they are really strategic and looking at how do you erase LGBTQ individuals? And you know, just like, you know, the attack on women's rights, right? It's an attack on LGBT rights. And the point of it is, is that when you attack rights, you're also attacking human rights.”

Pride events in Troy are scheduled throughout the month.

Samantha joined the WAMC staff after interning during her final semester at the University at Albany. A Troy native, she looks forward to covering what matters most to those in her community. Aside from working, Samantha enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and cat. She can be reached by phone at (518)-465-5233 Ext. 211 or by email at ssimmons@wamc.org.
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