by Anjali Sakhrani
Although the clouds overhead were grey, there was an undeniable sense of energy filled with life and color in Williamsburg this past Saturday. The North Brooklyn Pride Festival was held on June 20, 2015 on the block of North 11th street between Wythe Avenue and Kent Avenue, bringing together revelers from near and far.
Local businesses, big and small, came out in a big way to ensure the community was able to get a celebration they’ve been eagerly awaiting. Organizer Franny Civitano explained, “this location was strategic in a way, because there are these really big businesses that are here: the Brooklyn Bowl, the Brooklyn Brewery, VICE Media, Rough Trade, East River Ferry; all of these businesses come through here, and are really vibrant and involved in this community. So it made a lot of sense for them to get involved.”
For its inaugural year, the festival partnered with the Heart Gallery to bring awareness, and advocate for the support of the Invisible Youth. “The proceeds that came from the beer sales and the t-shirt sales, and anything extra that we had, went to them,” Civitano added.
The Heart Gallery works with connecting at risk, homeless youth with permanent families. The gallery does this by curating travelling exhibitions made up of portraiture photographs of those in need of adoptive homes. Laurie Sherman Graff, founder and director of the Heart Gallery NYC, explained that the organization works with providing support and mentorship for all youth in foster care, but it was important to “raise awareness for LGBTQ youth because not only are they dealing with the discrepancies [that comes with being in foster care], but they are also discriminated for being different.” Fifty percent of homeless youth who identify as LGBTQ often find themselves on the streets, and struggle to be accepted, due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. For this reason, festival organizers wanted to back the cause, as it isn’t always highlighted.
As New York City celebrates Pride across its five boroughs through the month of June, there is a progressive beat in the air rounding neighbors and peers of all walks of life. No matter how big or small the initiative, the LGBTQ community has come out with smiles plastered on their faces. North Brooklyn showed its pride last weekend, while Manhattan gears up for its iconic, annual march set to kick off this Sunday at 12PM.