The streets of Greenport Village were packed on June 24 with local families, political and religious leaders and nonprofits fighting for social justice in the inaugural North Fork Pride, a parade through downtown Greenport, followed by an afternoon-long festival in Mitchell Park.
With three Grand Marshals — Greenport native Harry Lewis, Southold Town ZBA Chairwoman and architect Leslie Kanes Weisman and Lynn Segerblom, a West Coast artist who led the team that developed the rainbow flag — and a bevy of local groups, from the pioneering lesbian advocacy group North Fork Women to the North Fork Community Theatre singing songs from “Rent” to the organizers of the new North Fork Arts Center to North Fork Audubon, the Greenport Fire Department, the Southold Mothers Club, and the Peconic Community School, to a bevy of hula hoopers and local churches and businesses ranging from Craft Hair to Clamity Janes to the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, the parade filled the village with cheers, whistles, stomps, shouts and song, as the community lined the streets to cheer participants.
The day’s events were organized by the LGBT Network, which for 30 years has been running educational programming to help young people stand up for themselves and their friends as they seek to understand their sexual identities, and has run the Long Island Pride parade for the past 10 years farther west on Long Island.
Part of the LGBT Network’s mission is to encourage alliances with the straight world, and with other groups that have been historically marginalized, as evidenced by the Progress Pride Flag on display throughout the day — a variation on the rainbow flag with four pink, blue, brown and black arrows infiltrating the classic rainbow stripes.
“Part of our recipe for success is we don’t see ourselves as a LGBT organization,” said LGBT Network CEO Robert Vitelli in a recent interview with The Beacon. “We see ourselves as a Long Island organization. We see the importance of engaging everyone. Sometimes people who are non-LGBT are our bigger supporters. Seeing all these different people come out to be a part of North Fork Pride is encouraging and refreshing. It’s a reminder that our community is bigger. It’s families, friends, allies and everyone together. We want North Fork Pride to be reflective of the entire community.”