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Rivera family, senior center to lead Pride Parade

Councilman Daniel Dromm (c.) named the family of Julio Rivera, represented by Rita Barakos (second from l.), and the Queens Center for Gay Seniors, represented by President John Nagel (r.), as marshals in the 2012 Queens Pride Parade. Photo by Rebecca Henely
TimesLedger Newspapers

City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who announced the marshals of the 2012 Queens Pride Parade Monday, looked back on how far the parade and the state had come since its inception 20 years ago.

“I was a young man when I started it,” Dromm said, “and I can’t believe 20 years have passed and so much has changed.”

The Queens Pride Parade and Multicultural Festival in Jackson Heights — an extravaganza that includes floats, elaborate costumes and LGBT groups from the borough and beyond — will be held Sunday, June 3, at noon.

The parade runs along 37th Avenue beginning at 84th Street and ending at 75th Street, the site of a festival which will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Some 40,000 to 60,000 people attend every year.

Dromm, who is openly gay, is one of the co-founders of the parade.

Marshals this year include the newly named Queens Center for Gay Seniors, at 74-09 37th Ave., Suite 409, in Jackson Heights, formerly known as Senior Action in a Gay Environment, and the family of Julio Rivera, whose 1990 murder in Jackson Heights inspired the parade.

Chris Calvert, who co-chairs the parade committee with Hank Krumholz, said this year’s theme is “Generations of Pride” and will feature both the senior LGBT community as well as student organizations, bringing together the past fighting discrimination and the present day. The 2012 parade will be the first held since New York legalized same-sex marriage last year.

“There’s been a lot of accomplishment, but very easily things can go backward,” Calvert cautioned.

John Nagel, president of the senior center, said the organization has been in operation as part of the Queens Community House since 1986. He described it as a place for LGBT seniors to feel safe and supported by members of their community.

“We’re really happy we’re going to be part of the Queens Pride Parade to promote LGBT seniors not only in Jackson Heights but in all of Queens,” Nagel said.

Rita Barakos, Rivera’s stepsister, came to the Monday announcement as a representative for the family.

“I’m very proud and I’m very happy about the parade because it keeps Julio’s memory alive,” she said.

Dromm and U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) both spoke about how Rivera’s tragic death inspired a movement for equality in the neighborhood.

“Even from those dark, ugly moments, rays of sunlight have come through,” Crowley said.

More information about the parade and festival can be found at queenspride.org.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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