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Sunday, September 24, 2023

» Schenectady Pride celebration offers information, food and entertainment


Eleventh Schenectady Pride It was in full swing at Gateway Plaza on Saturday. The event, run entirely by volunteers, is in its first year and is co-hosted by two Union College faculty members, Audrey Carlton and Sonia Sandoval.

The afternoon includes a variety of vendors and community organizations gathering to share information, food and art as well as multiple stage performances.

Vendors of the day range from local artisans venturing into their first market to thriving businesses loved by the Capital Region.

Erin Harrington of Queer Snail Studio has been to Pride before, but only as a guest. This year marks the first time he’s selling his art at a gala.

“I’ve been posting my art on Instagram for a while, and now I’m watching it come to life,” Harrington said. “I’m watching myself selling this stuff to other gay people and making them smile. It’s awesome, I love it.”

Café Euphoria is a worker cooperative in Troy that claims to be owned by transgender and non-conforming people.

Kate Curry is a member owner of the café and has attended Pride as both a guest and vendor.

“It’s a high visibility place,” Curry said. “We’re excited to be featured in so many other stores, meet other store owners, and build connections in our community that way.”

In addition to vendors, several community organizations also set up booths at the event.

The Capital Area Pride Bowlers, an LGBTQ+ bowling league, are there to recruit new members. The teams play Sunday night at the Sportsman’s Bowl at 6 p.m.

Free Mom Hugs is a national nonprofit organization that allows volunteers to act as mothers to those who may need them.

“My daughter is bisexual,” Penny Blaisdell said. “I do it because it’s something I want her to have when she needs it.”

Moms promote their organizations at Pride, and it’s not just about hugging those in need, like helping with college applications.

Planned Parenthood of Greater New York presents and promotes their LGBTQ+ services.

“It was logical for us to do this at our Pride event,” said Elle Bemis, LGBTQ+ Patient Navigator.

The event features a range of performers, from singers to drag queens.

“As a full voice choir, it’s really important to be in every corner of the community, not just Albany,” said capital pride singer President George Stevens.

Singers will hold free concerts June 10 and 15 in Albany and Troy, respectively.

The drag show featured Carmie Hope, Frieda Munchon, Opal Essence, Paris LuRux, Regina Sapphire and Zarria Aurora Davenport. The show is hosted by drag queens Mor’Glamazon and CiCi LaRue. This is the second year the two have been involved. Last year, LaRue hosted and Mor’ Glamazon performed.

“It’s always a good vibe and sponsorships are so much fun. I’m so happy to be here,” said Mor’Glamazon.

Other performers for the day were DJ RVMBA, The Wreckless Duo, DJ Lovely Candela, and actors from the Capital District Arts Project production rent.

The event is popular with all types of attendees. Crowds of young people perched on the grass, flanked by families chasing their children.

“I always want to make sure my daughter knows I love her no matter who she is,” Sabra Bartz said. “She’s 14 months old and this is her second pride.”

The crowd was filled with celebratory fashion, from caped flags to princess costumes.

Amanda Sternklar is synonymous with them, wearing a hand-crocheted rainbow sweater they made exclusively for Pride. Sternklar started crocheting primarily to make gender-affirming clothes for their friends.

St John Tony Green Bishop of God The Catholic Apostolic Church is there to talk about the mission of the church.

“We’re very progressive and very gay, lesbian and transgender inclusive,” Green said. “We just want to spread the word that we are here for people. If someone is gay, lesbian or trans and is looking for a spiritual home, we are there.”

Carlton and Sandoval stepped up after Schenectady Pride founder Chad Putnam moved out of the area. Both have worked on the event before and have decided to keep the tradition going.

“It’s hard to fit everything into three hours. Next year we’re going to have to think about extending the time,” Carlton said, looking around the event. “We really want to create a positive and inclusive space for people in a world that’s not so positive right now.”

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