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Pride event organizers aim to attract more families while preparing for potential disruptions

The organizers of several pride events said their main focus this year is to reassure families that they are going to do everything they can to make these events safe for them.

Ben Nandy

May 20, 2024, 10:35 PM

Updated 33 days ago

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Organizers of upcoming LGBTQ pride events around the Hudson Valley are preparing for the possibility of anti-LGBTQ protests as a month of celebrations is about to begin.
"Let's talk about what might happen, and prepare," said KK Naimool, an organizer of Beacon's Queer Liberation March on June 1.
She has noticed an increase in hateful rhetoric on social media and traditional media ahead of the event and is preparing marchers just in case anti-LGBTQ protestors show up.
"We're planning how to encourage folks to not engage," she said in a Zoom interview Monday. "And to talk about what we're here to talk about, and not to engage with anyone trying to invoke violence."
The FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security also issued a security alert that foreign terrorists "may seek to exploit increased gatherings associated with the upcoming June 2024 Pride Month."
The organizers of several pride events said their main focus this year is to reassure families that they are going to do everything they can to make these events safe for them.
Melissa Shaw-Smith, who organizes Warwick's annual pride celebration, recalled some of the "pushback" leading up to last year's event. Bogus signs were put out for the event displaying a hateful message and someone created a fake Facebook page for the event which included hateful videos.
The 2023 was the biggest pride event Shaw-Smith had ever helped organize, but she said some families were spooked and did not attend. She said this year she has been working closely with Warwick police and state police to keep the event safe and hate-free.
"We're really hoping that has been addressed," she said, "and that this year we won't see the impact of that."
Shaw-Smith said she has not yet noticed any ugly stunts like last year's in the leadup to this year' event on June 9. She and other organizers told News 12 Monday they are still planning for the possibility of disruptions.


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