Pride Month

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow has directed the rainbow pride flag to be flown at Donald R. Hill Memorial Civic Plaza, above. June is Pride Month, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, widely seen as a watershed moment in American civil rights.

OSWEGO — Despite federal officials denying requests from U.S. embassies to fly the rainbow pride flag on embassy flag poles during Pride Month, city and state leaders are denouncing the act and showing their support at the local level.

A report from NBC News indicates the U.S. embassies in Israel, Germany, Brazil and Latvia were denied the permission to hang the pride flag on embassy flagpoles by officials from President Donald Trump’s State Department.

While the flag can fly elsewhere on embassy grounds, including the inside of the facility and on outer walls, the NBC article says it is State Department policy to obtain permission from Washington if embassies are to fly the flag on their flagpoles.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the decision to deny the requests “outrageous.”

“It is outrageous that the Trump Administration is rejecting requests from U.S. embassies to fly pride flags during Pride Month,” the governor said in a statement, noting for the first time in state history New York was “honored” to raise the rainbow pride flag over the State Capitol. “We proudly stand with the LGBTQ community, during Pride Month and always, even if the Trump administration does not."

In the city of Oswego, local officials have hung a rainbow pride flag outside city hall in honor of Pride Month and the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots — a watershed social moment.

Pride Month is celebrated globally in June and marks the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The demonstrations are often cited as a turning point in American gay rights history, with thousands of NYC’s LGBTQ community protesting after police raided the Stonewall Inn gay bar.

In an effort to stand with LGBTQ community rights advocates, city leaders said they want to show they are both “supportive and proud.”

“Since taking office I’ve tried to use my position to improve the lives of all Oswegonians and make Oswego a community where everyone feels accepted and included,” Mayor Billy Barlow said.

Councilwoman Susan McBrearty. D-1st Ward, urged other municipalities within the county to show solidarity and “recognize the diversity in our community.”

“I feel this helps our LGBTQ community feel safe and welcome,” McBrearty said.

Recognizing diversity is a key asset, McBrearty said, when trying to further enrich a sense of community in the area. 

“For those that have traditionally been marginalized due to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other characteristics, public recognition of their importance to our community is even more vital,” the councilwoman said. 

Local LGBTQ community rights advocates praised city leadership for their stance.

“It's so wonderful to have a mayor and city council that is willing to show their support for the LGBTQ community during our time of celebration,” said Alexander DeSacia, who works with Oswego County Opportunities (OCO) as a youth health advocate. “It makes me, and other members of the LGBTQ+ community feel welcome in Oswego.”

DeSacia, whose work with OCO focuses on educating Port City residents on HIV and AIDS related information, said despite the current efforts, he would like to see more events that celebrate the LGBTQ community.

“We definitely need more pride events and celebrations going on during Pride Month, but we are also very pleased to have what we already have,” he said.

Earlier this year, advocates and members of the LGBTQ community celebrated the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) bill at the state level.

The passage of the bill at the start of this year’s legislative term extends protection from discriminatory practices on the basis of gender and also modifies the state’s hate crime statutes.

Local members of the LGBT community in Oswego welcomed the legal protections but recognized there is still much work to be done.

Zach Diamond, co-founder of LGBT community support group Accept Oswego, said that while GENDA signifies a significant policy victory, the struggles of transgender people are “far from over.” 

“A minority group's rights ‘on paper’ can often be a far cry from their daily lived experiences,” Diamond said. “Rights must be enforced and upheld materially by individuals with their own biases and interpretations of the law.”

Below is a list of events Pride Month events recommended by advocates: 

Drag Queen Story Hour on June 23, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at OCO’s Fulton office located at 239 Oneida St.

LGBTQ+ Drop-In every Wednesday 4:30 to 7:30pm at OCO’s Fulton office located at 239 Oneida St.

Queens for a Cause coming up June 7th, 7:00 at the American Foundry, located at 246 W Seneca St.

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