Pride parade turns a corner with new sponsor

HUDSON—The Hudson Pride Foundation and Hudson’s Pride Parade have come to a fork in their road, but on Wednesday both entities seemed willing and able to forge ahead, separate from one another.

On March 17 the Hudson Pride Foundation (HPF) announced a new collaboration with Amanda Henry, commissioner of the City of Hudson’s Office of the Aging, in an effort, said the group, “to provide services and resources to the growing LGBTQ [gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer] elder population in Columbia County.”

The Foundation was quick to add that its original mission—“encouraging and supporting high school students in their efforts to achieve”—would not change. HPF donates $4,000 annually to Columbia County students: four $1,000 scholarships awarded to freshman, sophomore, junior and senior students, respectively.

Then came the surprising announcement: after organizing the annual Hudson Pride parade for the past six years, the HPF board said it “is taking a break this year” from that endeavor.

Faced with community disappointment at this news, HPF issued a second press release. “The celebration of pride belongs to ALL of us,” the group noted, “not just the Hudson Pride Foundation.” They encouraged other community members to “join together and create this celebration.”

Enter Rich Volo aka Trixie Star, a founder of the Pride Parade and former HPF board president. Monday, March 21 Mr. Volo, representing a new organization, Out Hudson, submitted the necessary request for a mass gathering permit, the first step in planning the parade.

Hudson Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton waived the required 120-day advance notice required for such a permit. HPF had already applied for a permit for the parade, she explained Wednesday, “So we exchanged one sponsor for another.”

Mayor Hamilton said she expects the next approvals, from the city’s Department of Public Works and Police Department, to go smoothly, and she is happy that the parade is planned. No Pride Parade “would have been a terrible loss for Hudson,” she said. Ms. Hamilton also served on the HPF board, before she resigned to run for office in 2015.

Mr. Volo, a community activist who ran unsuccessfully for Fourth Ward alderman last year, said Tuesday that he was looking at Saturday, June 18 for the parade. His mass gathering permit application, available at cityofhudson.org, describes the familiar event, marching west on Warren Street from Seventh Street to Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. A festival at the riverfront gazebo is “possible,” says the application.

In other news, HPF also announced:

• Awarding a total of $18,000 in scholarships to students who have demonstrated a commitment to promoting and supporting LGBTQ equal rights. Applications for 2016 scholarships are due June 1 and can be found at hudsonpridefoundation.org

• The intent to partner with SAGE, the Service & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders organization

• Its work with the Hetrick Martin Institute and the Pride Center of the Capital Region to broaden the reach into local schools to provide LGBTQ Cultural Competency and Cultural Humility training for teachers and staff

• Its honor this month for good works at the Hudson Valley LGTBQ Community Center’s 2016 Gala

Still, the parade was on the minds of many. “The decision about the parade should have been a community conversation,” said Victor Mendolia, another Hudson activist and former HPF board member. “But their relinquishing the parade and allowing others to organize it is the best way to go now.”

“The Pride march was no longer about gay people but rather about how accepting straight people are, which they are,” Hudson resident Lee Gould wrote in an email March 21. “Hudson is so wonderful, but there’s something lacking when it’s not rebellious, when there’s no need to get out there and strut.

“HPF will be doing some good work,” she concluded. “Elderly gay folks have a particularly hard time of it.”

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