May 29, 2018 By Tara Law
The annual Queens Pride Parade and Festival will take over 37th Avenue on June 3 to celebrate LGBTQ visibility and pride.
More than 70 nonprofits, city offices and civic groups will march down the avenue from 89th Street to 75th Street–starting at noon–in a colorful celebration of openness, diversity and unity.
The parade will then be followed by the festival, which will feature comedians, drag acts, dance groups, and performances by headlining iconic dance singer Ultra Nate— known for LGBTQ anthems such as “Free” and “Automatic”— and California-based DJ Missy B.
Queens Pride is a celebration of openness and love, but it was first held in 1993 in response to tragedy. It was organized in response to the 1990 murder of 29-year-old Jackson Heights resident Julio Rivera, who was attacked in the schoolyard of P.S. 69 by a group of skinheads because he was gay. The parade will pass by the school and the corner of 37th Avenue and 78th Street, which is named “Julio Rivera Corner.”
This year’s parade will not feature a specific theme, according to parade co-Chair Tina Arnotis, due to time and resource constraints. The organizing group, Jackson Heights-based Queens Pride, is currently preparing for the international “World Pride” event next year that is being held in New York City.
This year’s Queens Pride Parade will feature grand marshals Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Elijah Betts, a participant in Queens Community House’s youth group Generation Q.
All marchers will be eligible to win “Queenie” awards— prizes for the best costumes, groups and performances. Winners will be announced after the parade, and winners will be notified via email about how to collect their trophy.
The Queenie prizes will include “The Drag Race” for the best drag performance; “The Rainbow Award,” for the group with the best use of color; “The Screaming Queens Award” for the group with the best sound; “The Toast of Queens Award” for the bar, club or business with the best representation, and, the top prize, “The Simply the Best Award.”
The parade will be followed by a festival featuring food and entertainment between 75th Street and 37th Road from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The sound of the festivities will be organized by Club Evolution, a gay Latin nightclub on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights.