North Fork Celebrates Pride Month 2023 with New Parade & Events
North Fork Pride is being celebrated in events from Riverhead to Greenport through Pride Month as organizations, businesses and members of the community come together for events throughout June that celebrate diversity on the North Fork.
From golfing to the first-ever North Fork Pride Parade, these events are intended to raise awareness and appreciation for the LGBTQ+ community. Robert Vitelli, chief executive officer of the LGBT Network, is busy organizing volunteers and coordinating with local businesses and the Greenport community for the North Fork Pride Parade and festival on Saturday, June 24.
“The excitement is palpable,” says Vitelli. “People have wanted this for a very, very long time.”
The LGBT Network has provided 30 years of service on Long Island, Queens and parts of New York City. The first part of their mission is: “Be Yourself.” This simple claim cannot be taken for granted.
“We still have to worry about holding our partner’s hand in public,” he says. “Our kids are still being bullied in school.”
While significant strides have been made in the last 20 to 25 years, he notes that the last two to three years have seen a surge of anti-LGBT rhetoric and extremism, and gains are being threatened. At a time when there are more than 400 anti-LGBT bills in legislatures nationally, Vitelli says the timing of this North Fork Pride event is significant.
His hope is that the event “will further build a community, uniting the LGBT community and its allies, and increasing the visibility of LGBT people on the North Fork.”
The parade kicks off at noon from Broad Street, heads down Main Street, hooks onto Front Street, and ends at Mitchell Park, the location of the Pride Festival, with vendors and entertainment. There will be a tea dance from 5–7 p.m. for adults over 21. Tea dances originated in the gay community in the 1950s and 1960s in New York.
Vitelli notes that we should move beyond mere tolerance to full support, affirmation and inclusion in the North Fork community, and North Fork Pride embodies that message.
“North Fork Pride is essential to provide more LGBT people with the opportunity to be seen, to be heard and to be empowered at a time when LGBT existence has come under attack,” says Vitelli.
Coming up next is the documentary Grounders about a women’s softball league in Brooklyn. The North Fork Community Theatre (NFCT) in Mattituck will host a reception, documentary screening and Q&A with the filmmaker on Friday, June 9.
According to northforkwomen.org, which is co-hosting the event and sharing the proceeds with NFCT, “With Brooklyn as the backdrop and connections that blur the boundaries of race, class, age, religion and sexual orientation, these women have many stories to tell about why they are there. Grounders is for anyone who has ever thrown a ball, high-fived a teammate or cheered from the bleachers.”
Tickets are $20. NFCT is located at 12700 Old Sound Avenue in Mattituck. The screening is scheduled for 6:30–8 p.m.
In a fitting follow-up to the movie, North Fork Women will gather for a friendly game of softball the next day.
Bring your glove, bat, lunch and a favorite cheer! Meet at the field at 11 a.m. at 1865 Bay Avenue in Mattituck.
And on Friday, June 9 is Project Your Pride at RGNY in Riverhead. The winery is hosting a drive-in movie ($50 per vehicle) for their Pride celebration. Feature motion picture to be revealed (The Birdcage or To Wong Foo). A portion of ticket sales and Pride-related items, including blankets, T-shirts, and the signature Pride Rosé, benefit Queerli. Sweet treats and savory eats are provided by The Treatery.
Parking opens at 7 p.m. and the movie begins at 8 p.m. Or pick up a bottle of their Rainbow Rosé with a festive, multicolored label ($25).
Before we celebrate national freedom with Fourth of July parades and parties, June offers a chance to reflect on our freedom to live authentically as those in our LGBTQ+ community do.