GLOVERSVILLE – As music played in the background and people walked from table to table checking out organizations, some had Pride flags draped around them, others spread a blanket in the grass at Myers Park and sat down to have a picnic.
They were all there celebrating Pride month and the first Pride event in Gloversville, dubbed the Glove City Pride Picnic.
The event was organized in just a few months by First Congregational United Church of Christ Pastor Ralph Merante, who is queer, and others like his partner Todd Rumsey.
“We are thrilled,” Merante said about the turnout, which saw several dozen people in attendance.
Merante said they wanted to have the event to show people that “everyone is welcomed” and that “God created them as they are.”
Performer Alexander Rose, who goes by the drag name Janice F. Precise, said it was really cool that a church put on the event in light of how some religions view the LGBTQ community.
Rose said over the course of her life she has been the victim of homophobic slurs and attacks, so to have a safe space to meet other people in the community meant a lot.
“Growing up, I thought I was the only gay person,” she said.
But now, because of the Pride picnic and others in the Capital District, she’s been able to meet other people in the LGBTQ community. The picnic was also just a great time to have a breather, she said, particularly given the recent primary election, Supreme Court decisions and other political issues facing people today.
“The world is broken, but we get to come together and forget about what is happening beyond the forest park walls,” she said.
She also said the picnic provided a wonderful opportunity for her to talk to people about the project that House of Precise, a nonprofit which she performs with at the Albany nightclub ROCKS, is doing to create a homeless shelter for LGBTQ community members somewhere in the Capital District. The project is just getting off the ground and while no building for the shelter has been established yet people can donate to the cause, she said. People looking to donate food, clothing or other items can drop them off at ROCKS. Others can donate money through Cash App by searching “$houseofpreciseinc” or Venmo by searching “@houseoufprecise.”
Other attendees liked how laid back the event was.
Beth Gaige attended with her daughter Madison Gaige and her friend Robin Sear.
“It’s nice to meet more people in our community,” said Sear, who is pansexual, asexual and gender fluid.
Madison Gaige, who is bisexual and asexual, and Beth Gaige, an ally, both said it was nice to have something closer to attend for Pride month.
They said the closest Pride events to them that they know about are in Schenectady and Albany.
“Not everybody can travel there,” Beth Gaige said.
They also all liked how family friendly the event was.
While no one was talking politics in the group, Beth Gaige when asked about recent political issues said she thinks recent actions will make people, especially younger people, get more active in politics and ensure the people they want to represent them and their ideas are in office.
Not far from the Gaiges and Sear sat another group munching on food and talking. Zowie Keijsers Koning, a lesbian, and her sister Olivia-Sophie Keijsers Koning, a straight ally, had just met Alex Smith, who is non-binary and pansexual, through their mutual friend Autumn Kurts, who is bisexual and prefers their gender unlabeled.
Smith, like Sear, agreed that it was nice to meet other LGBTQ people who live in their community.
“It’s good to know it’s not just the people in our friend group,” he said.
Zowie Keijsers Koning said she had never been to a Pride event in upstate New York.
“I’d come back to this every year,” she said.