The June 24 pride event will start with a parade on Main & Front streets at noon, continue with a festival in Mitchell Park from 1 to 4 p.m. and end with a tea dance that begins at 5 p.m. Photo: Adobe Stock

The North Fork will mark a historic first in Pride Month this year with a parade and festival in the Village of Greenport.

The North Fork Pride celebration will take place on Saturday, June 24, starting with a parade on Main and Front street at noon, followed by a festival in Mitchell Park from 1 to 4 p.m. and a tea dance at the roller rink at 5 p.m.

Registration for groups that want to march in the parade is open and there’s been a terrific response, said LGBT Network CEO Robert Vitelli. (Register on the LGBT Network website.)

“There is such palpable excitement and enthusiasm from so many people in so many different groups,” Vitelli said. “We’re really fortunate to be working with local business leaders, local community members, to put this event together, plan it and produce it,” he said. “It’s really been a true collaboration and partnership between us and the local community.”

Vitelli said it’s more the awareness and visibility of the LGBT community is more important than ever.

“A lot of people in this community are experiencing feeling attacked by policy, whether that’s local or elsewhere in our country. It’s a daily reality,” Vitelli said.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there have been 474 bills introduced this year in state legislatures in all but three states — New York, Illinois and Wisconsin — that target LGBTQ rights.

“It’s a reminder about how vulnerable we are, as a community, how susceptible we are to to these very abrupt changes in policy that really seek to strip away at who we are and work at taking away the very freedom to be an LGBTQ-identified person,” Vitelli said.

Pride events are that much more important as “an opportunity for people to come together and rally and unite, to feel stronger, to feel empowered to be who they are,” he said.

“The North Fork has more older, lesbian-identified women who braved and trailblazed through the ‘60s, ‘70s, ’80s and ’90s — perhaps even before — to be out and be proud of who they are,” Vitelli said. “So the attempt to roll back the advancements that have been made is a challenge,” he said.

“We think there’s such great significance to be able to hold this event in the North Fork, and to be able to give that space for people to stand up and feel empowered that what’s going on is not going to hold us down or hold us back,” he said. “Together as a community, we’re stronger. That’s a really important message.”

Vitelli said it’s also very important for the LGBTQ community to be visible for the young people in the community, to be vocal and show that they will stand up for their freedoms.

The LGBT Network has a safe schools initiative, which works to create safer, more supportive, more inclusive school fro LGBTQ youth and their allies. It holds anti-bullying workshops for students as well as training for teachers, administrators and other school staff.

The network also runs an East End GSA outreach project, which supports after-school GSA clubs. The programs teach youth how to stand up and intervene when someone else is being bullied, how to stand up to discrimination, and how to be a leader and advocate in their school communities, Vitelli said.

Funds raised by the North Fork Pride event will support the East End outreach project, he said.

The LGBT Network, founded in 1993, provides a host of services to LGBT people of all ages and all across Long Island and Queens. A community-based advocacy and service organization headquartered in Hauppauge, it has centers in Sag Harbor, Bay Shore and Astoria, Queens.

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