The LGBTQ community in NYS is vibrant, resilient, and worth celebrating, especially in the Hudson Valley region. Last month was LGBTQ Pride Month, and across the Hudson Valley people experienced two annual pride celebrations, one in Hudson, the other in New Paltz. The recently formed Columbia County Young Democrats (CCYD) proudly marched alongside other local Democrats at the parade in Hudson. Though this was Hudson’s first parade with a Republican occupying the White House, this year’s parade did have a different feel to it.
The Democratic contingency in the parade was the largest I have ever seen. Marching with the Young Dems were the Hudson Democrats, Columbia County Democratic Committee, and the Greene County Democratic Committee as well as four of the candidates running for the congressional seat in NY-19.
The crowd in Hudson was, to say the least, happy to see us, especially us Young Democrats. We had just received our new CCYD banner and it was our first time ever having an identifiable presence at a public event. The streets of Hudson were packed, largely with Democrats of course. The entire city was ecstatic to see us.
As CCYD walked down the seven long blocks of Warren Street, we were greeted with cheers fueled by hope and excitement. Several people looked surprised, but happy to see that we even existed. This was Hudson’s first pride parade since the election, and you could tell that the City of Hudson had a heightened sense of awareness and urgency surrounding the current political climate. The way the crowd cheered on Democrats was something I have never seen before in Hudson. The residents in the parade and around the route knew that we were the leaders actively working to change the local political landscape, and for that they were grateful.
For many LGBTQ New Yorkers, the battle towards liberation and justice is just beginning. Rural LGBTQ New Yorkers, many of whom are not protected by the laws of larger neighboring cities, are even further away from full equality. Three crucial pieces of legislation have repeatedly failed to pass in the NYS Assembly and Senate. The Gender Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which would add gender identity and expression as a protected class in the state’s human rights and hate crimes laws. The Healthy Teens Act which would establish an age-appropriate sex education grant program for schools throughout NYS. And lastly, the Child-Parent Security Act, which recognizes the legitimacy of children born through assisted reproductive technology and legalizes surrogate parenting contracts. These are just a few examples to show that the fight for LGBTQ equality, even in NYS, is far from finished.
Marching in a parade may not seem revolutionary, but for the small-town communities in the Hudson Valley, it continues to be an important act of celebration. In rural NYS, LGBTQ people are in need of local political champions that will bring their voices to the table. CCYD is working tirelessly to ensure that every local office across the county is filled with progressive leaders who uplift, affirm, and fight for the LGBTQ community. It is our hope, that through the efforts of our rural young Democratic chapters, we can elect new Democrats, pass critical LGBTQ legislation in Albany, and finally have NYS model what LGBTQ justice and liberation looks like.