ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – June 1st marks the beginning of Pride Month across the country. Today, in the City of Albany, local leaders came together to kick off the celebration by raising the rainbow flag high above the steps of City Hall and presenting a check to a prominent local LGBTQ organization.
“We especially got hit because we lost out on celebrating our 50 year anniversary,” John Daniels, Board President of Pride Center of the Capital Region, said.
He added that the pandemic did so much more than just stealing Pride Month in 2020. The center has been closed to the public since the shutdown began, and ever since, the organization has missed out on fundraising opportunities and had to translate its services the best it could to virtual platforms.
“So much damage was done, like so many other LGBTQ organizations in the country,” Daniels said.
The walk-up building on Hudson Avenue is the longest-standing Pride Center in the country. The organization provides mental health services, group therapy, housing assistance, and much more to serve the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community in the Capital Region
“It was a shock. It was a bigger shock to our community that we serve,” Daniels said.
Today, at the kick-off of pride month, the center was handed a much-needed $25,000 check to reopen its doors from Senator Neil Breslin.
At the closing of the ceremony, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan recognized Richard by naming the event in his honor, proclaiming that the tradition will be called the Richard Conti Pride Flag Raising Ceremony in the future.
Conti has served 24 years in the Albany Common Council and made it his mission to breaking down barriers for the local LGBTQ community.
“I’d like to remind people that where we were in 1987 is very different than where we are today,” Conti said. “The flying of the pride flag for the gay, lesbian, trans, bi community is a symbol that we are welcome at city hall and we are part of the city like other communities.”
Many also acknowledged that not all of the issues facing that community have been tackled just yet, and the pandemic even brought some to the surface.
“I encountered a lot of just lack of mental health stability. And when you’re not mentally stable, sometimes you don’t pay your bills, you don’t take your medicine. Just day-to-day things to keep yourself up,” London Jae, CEO of the House of Precise, said.
The House of Precise is an organization that provides shelter and services to LGBTQ youth in need.
“A house is a chosen family that has nothing to do with the building and everything to do with the love, the acceptance, the support, guidance,” Jae said. “I am the proud mother of the House of Precise.”
Jae said the fight isn’t over, and there is much more that needs to be done in the way of inclusion when it comes to Pride month and beyond.