Pride Day Celebrates New York’s LGBT Community, Joins Fair’s Roster of Special Days with Flag Raising, Information Fair and Free Melissa Etheridge Concert
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the 2015 Great New York State Fair will feature a "Pride Day" in celebration of New York’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The designation will take place on Friday, August 28 to formalize what had been for many years an informal gathering at the Fair by members of the LGBT community.
“New York is proud to be a leader in the fight for equality, and this summer we're extending our celebration and support of the LGBT community to the State Fair," said Governor Cuomo. “This year's State Fair is set to be one of the best yet, and I encourage New Yorkers and visitors alike to plan a trip for the first ever Pride Day."
Pride Day at the Fair will begin with the raising of the Rainbow Flag at the Main Gate of the Fairgrounds followed by a day-long information fair linking fairgoers to various organizations. Pride Day will also feature a ceremony that includes speakers from the LGBT community and a prominent presence in the Fair's daily parade. In addition, the LGBT booth, which has been staffed for 15 years by local advocacy agencies, will occupy its customary spot in the Center of Progress Building.
Pride Day at the Fair will conclude with a free Chevy Court concert at 8 p.m. from Melissa Etheridge, the Grammy-award winning rock star who has campaigned for LGBT equality since coming out in 1993.
Pride Day is in addition to several special days at the Fair including Law Enforcement Day, Armed Forces Day, two Senior Days, the new Six Nations Day honoring the contributions of the Iroquois Nations, SUNY Day and Women’s Day. The Fair always begins with Governor’s Day. The Great New York State Fair runs from August 27 to September 7, 2015.
Troy Waffner, Acting Fair Director said, “We are pleased to have this first official day at the New York State Fair embracing the LGBT community. We are committed to an ongoing effort to create a more diverse Fair that reflects all of the people of New York,” said
Governor Cuomo has made equality and justice for LGBT New Yorkers a central public policy priority for his administration. As governor, he has taken a number of important steps to fight discrimination and further the health and well-being of LGBT New Yorkers, including:
- Helping to lead the fight to pass New York’s historic marriage equality law, making New York the most populous state in the nation at that time with legal marriage for same-sex couples.
- Enacting the nation’s strongest statewide campus sexual assault legislation, which explicitly protects violence against LGBT students.
- Launching a three-point plan to end the AIDS epidemic in New York by decreasing new HIV infections to the point where the number of people living with HIV in New York State is reduced for the first time.
- Revising New York State’s birth certificate policy for transgender people, so that birth certificates with corrected gender markers are issued when a licensed medical provider states that a transgender individual has received appropriate clinical treatment.
- Passing new regulations to include transgender health care services under New York State’s Medicaid program, guaranteeing transgender New Yorkers access to Medicaid-funded care for hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery.
- Requiring private health insurance companies to cover transgender health care on the same terms as other care.
- Implementing a coordinated, multi-agency strategy – the first of its kind in the nation -- to strengthen state data collection around sexual orientation and gender identity, and better tailor health and human services to meet the needs of LGBT New Yorkers.
- Barring non-essential state travel to Indiana while that state had in effect legislation allowing for the discrimination of LGBT people.
- Introducing the I Love NY LGBT tourism campaign to encourage LGBT travelers to visit New York and explore all there is to see and do in the Empire State.
Pride Day at the Fair is created in collaboration with various leading Central New York groups active in issues involving the LGBT community.
Ross Levi, Vice President, Marketing Initiatives for Empire State Development and coordinator of the I Love New York LGBT tourism initiative said, “The New York State Fair is a great attraction that should be experienced by everyone. LGBT guests will now have another reason to visit and take part in all the fun the Fair has to offer, from unique foods to thrilling rides to entertaining performances.”
“The official addition of Pride Day to the Fair schedule marks a recognition of the important roles that members of the LGBTQ community have played in the Empire State both now and in the past. I am certain that official recognition of Pride Day will lead to an increase in self-esteem and self-confidence among members of the community. This is especially important for adolescents and youth who may feel bullied in their schools and for adults who have experienced discrimination in their neighborhoods and places of employment. The recognition of Pride Day marks yet another step in the achievement of equality for all New Yorkers. Where once LGBTQ individuals were relegated to the sidelines, we can now stand proudly among our brothers and sisters, joining them as yet another part of the complex network of citizens of the state of New York,” said D. Bruce Carter, PhD, President of CNY Pride.
Service and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) Executive Director Kim Dill said, “Many of the older GLBT people served by SAGE Upstate been there at the New York State Fair every year, all of their lives. This year, this great institution is there for them in a more visible way. It means so much to set aside a day to recognize GLBT people and our allies who support equality for all."
Focus on Awareness and Information Resources of New York (FAIRNY) Coordinator Bonnie Strunk said, “We have persevered for 15 years here at the Fair because we feel strongly that the Fair is a unique venue for us to provide educational resources in that it reflects a cross section of the community at large, and our booth has been a way to provide resources for the general public in a way that we feel cannot be done in any other venue - it's the real New York!”
ACR Health Executive Director Michael Crinnin said, “The State Fair has always been a vast melting pot of urban, rural, and suburban community members, where people watching reigns as one of the Fair’s greatest pleasures. Pride Day will encourage the open participation of many in the LGBT community, offering LGBT youth in particular a wide spectrum of role models, and the confirmation that they are not alone in the world. For many isolated LGBT youth this exposure may well sustain them through deep and private struggles to the time they can live openly and independently."
Barrie Gewanter, Director of the Central New York Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said, “This represents an important step in demonstrating that the New York State Fair should be and is a welcoming and inclusive place for all.”
Mallory Livingston, President of the Transgender Allliance, said, “The Transgender Alliance is proud to participate in the first-ever Pride Day at the Fair. It’s important for all of our citizens to be recognized and welcomed at a unifying event like the Fair. Too often in the past, transgender people were excluded from events. We couldn’t be happier to know that everyone is welcome to participate here.”
About the Great New York State Fair
The New York State Fair, operated by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, runs from August 27 to September 7, 2015. The Fair’s mission, reflected in its theme, “Summer’s Best in Show,” is to showcase the best of New York agriculture while providing top-quality entertainment.
The home of the Great New York State Fair is a 375-acre exhibit and entertainment complex that operates all year to host dozens of agricultural events, including some of the Northeast’s most prestigious horse and livestock shows. A year-round schedule of events is available on the Fair’s website.
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