Blue and silver streamers, bell-bottom jeans, the music of Whitney Houston and marchers chanting, “Gay people are good,” echoed along the Brain, the main road that circles the Binghamton University campus, as students and faculty participated in the Pride Month Kick-Off Parade.
Organized by the Q Center, the parade set off a series of events they will host in October, which is LGBTQ History Month. Following a 1970s theme, it paid homage to events such as the Stonewall riots, which had its 50th anniversary this June.
While the majority of groups that participated in the parade were LGBTQ-based, faculty-based groups such as BU Libraries also marched. Nicki Chanecka, senior assistant to the dean of University Libraries, said BU Libraries is promoting studies of the 1960s, specifically the history of LGBTQ events of that time.
“This march is really for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots,” Chanecka said. “Students were not on campus in June when the main celebrations took place worldwide, but we support the history and camaraderie it’s bringing to campus today.”
The Stonewall riots lasted for six days in 1969, after police raided a gay club in New York City named “Stonewall Inn.” Katherine Robinson, a volunteer for the Q Center and a senior double-majoring in classical and Near Eastern studies and medieval and early modern studies, said the theme reminded her of the struggles LGBTQ people have fought in the past.
“Stonewall and Woodstock happened in 1969 and June was the 50th anniversary of Stonewall,” Robinson said. “Stonewall was important in pushing for the rights for the LGBTQ community and Woodstock was a fun event we wanted to celebrate alongside it.”
Other LGBTQ groups on campus such as Keshet, an LGBTQ Jewish organization within Hillel, marched in the parade to raise awareness of available resources for the community. Allison Abrams, director of Keshet and a senior majoring in Judaic studies, said she hoped the event brought a sense of community to those who didn’t know about them.
“The queer community is interconnected,” Abrams said. “I really believe that if you’re queer and a part of a niche community that you’re just as responsible for the whole community. The parade shows people who may not know about all the resources that tell LGBTQ people that they’re not alone. We are here, we are queer, we are normal — there is nothing wrong with us.”
As the parade went down the Brain and the Spine, students stopped to hear the music and chants. Kira Hawes, a sophomore majoring in environmental studies, saw the event as she left Jazzman’s.
“Even though we weren’t on campus for Pride Month in June, it was nice to see how groups on campus did not forget the importance of events like Stonewall in our history,” Hawes said.
For the rest of October, the Q Center and other cultural groups will host a variety of events to commemorate LGBTQ History Month. On Oct. 10, Taína Asili, ‘00, and her band La Banda Rebelde will play in the Mandela Room to honor both the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Latin American Student Union (LASU). On Oct. 24, Steven Canals, ’08, will host a talk at the Anderson Center as part of the Multicultural Resource Center’s (MRC) Binghamton Distinguished Speakers series. Canals recently won an Emmy award for creating the LGBTQ drama show “Pose.”