Tags Posts tagged with "Pride Month"

Pride Month

The PRIDE exhibit at the Northport Historical Society runs through June 30. Photo from Northport Historical Society
The PRIDE exhibit at the Northport Historical Society runs through June 30. Photo from Northport Historical Society

In perfect timing with Pride Month, the Northport Historical Society, 215 Main St., Northport presents PRIDE!, a pop-up exhibit curated and designed by Marketing and Membership Coordinator John N. Daniello.

The Society’s first LGBT+ exhibit, PRIDE! explores the history of the LGBT+ movement in the United States and Northport. The month-long exhibit is generously sponsored by Northport Copy and features local artist Greg Fox and his comic Kyle’s Bed & Breakfast. The Society welcomes members of Northport’s (and the surrounding areas) LGBT+ community — and their allies — to share their personal stories of Pride.

Viewing hours are Thursday to Sunday from 1 to 4:30 p.m. including during Northport’s Pridefest on June 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Northport Village Park. Admission to the exhibit is free. For more information, visit northporthistorical.org

The Town of Smithtown Anti-Bias Task Force and Youth Bureau sponsored a family-friendly Pride Month Celebration Picnic at Hoyt Farm in Commack on June 28.

In addition to the beautiful facilities at Hoyt Farm, many fun and activities were planned for young people, including professional face painting and a slew of games. Partner organizations —  the Smithtown Library, the LGBT Network, Free Mom Hugs, and Keep It Kind Smithtown — also participated in the celebration.

Duck Donuts in Hauppauge donated to the picnic, while Musicology Performance Center provided musical entertainment.

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Photo from Smithtown Library Facebook

Within 48 hours, The Smithtown Library Board of Trustees reversed a controversial decision made at its June 21 meeting.

Initially, the trustees voted 4-2, with one member absent, to remove pride displays, which included signs and books, in the children’s sections in its Smithtown, Commack, Kings Park and Nesconset branches. Two days later, the board held an emergency meeting and reversed its decision, again 4-2, with one board member abstaining.

The reversal came after criticism from the community on social media platforms. Among the critics were Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), the New York Library Association and author Jodi Picoult, who grew up in the town and was a page at the library when she was younger. She said on her Facebook page the initial decision “disgusts me and makes me reevaluate an institution that I have praised for being formative in my life as an author.”

The books remained available in the library’s children’s collection during the temporary removal and could be checked out, according to a June 22 memo from library trustees. Pride displays in the adult and teen sections remained.

After the reversal of the decision during the board’s emergency June 23 meeting, another memo was posted to the library’s website announcing the rescinding of the decision.

“The majority of the board recognizes that our earlier decision was made without the time, care and due diligence that a decision of this type deserves and that it was the wrong decision,” the memo read.

No public comments were accepted during the June 23 meeting, which was held via Zoom.

Thomas Maher, vice president of trustees, said at this meeting he supports the LGBTQ+ community’s rights. He said during the June 21 meeting, there was a passionate discussion about the displays, and the subject was discussed for a while. It was discovered there wasn’t a library policy about internal displays. He said his initial vote to remove the displays “was intended to enable the library to continue to offer all of its existing resources to all of its patrons in a peaceful and cooperative manner during this time of transition.” On June 23, he voted for the return of the displays.

Trustee Marie Gergenti voted twice for the removal. She said during the June 23 meeting she received messages from patrons.

“They felt that little children were exposed to some images in some of those books, and they weren’t happy about it,” she said.

Theresa Grisafi, a trustee who also voted twice for the removal, added many felt the displays in the children’s rooms were not age appropriate for young library patrons.

“The concern was for the small children,” she said.

She said she tried to convey that at the initial meeting and said it had nothing to do with anyone’s personal feelings.

Trustee member Marilyn LoPresti abstained from voting on June 23 and said she would like to research the matter further.

Library board president Brianna Baker-Stines said at the June 23 meeting, “We assumed a role that was not our job.”

Baker-Stines added that it was the librarians’ jobs to set up displays and “we need to trust the staff we hired.”

In an email to TBR News Media, Baker-Stines said in order to create a policy regarding internal displays, legal counsel advised that a standing committee for policy creation would first need to be created. While the board has multiple standing committees, the previous ones were only ad hoc. Baker-Stines said during her time on the board the members have only had to amend policies and not create new ones, unless based on an immediate need such as the work-from-home policy adopted at the beginning of the pandemic. She said the members realized it would take several steps to establish a proper committee. 

“We knew that this process might take several meetings, which may be why some trustees were in a rush to remove the pride display that night,” she said.

Initial news coverage reported that the books were removed from the children’s collections when they were not.

“I think the wording on the motion may have led some of the media to believe the books were removed all together,” she said.

Baker-Stines said she “was devastated by the vote to remove the pride displays” and added “the library should be a safe space for every member of the public.” 

As former library page and reference clerk at Hauppauge Public Library, she said, “I have been a part of the creation of many library displays, including Pride month displays. These are materials that can be lifesaving, and also materials that are requested by patrons during this time.”

Currently, the trustees have 900 emails to go through after the community reacted to the board’s initial decision.

David Kilmnick, nonprofit LGBT Network president and CEO, said while the removal of the displays never should have happened, the community’s response “shows the power that we have as a community to do the right thing and that right thing is so simple — it is creating safe learning spaces for all of our children.”

He said the removal of the displays could have a traumatic effect on “someone seeing themselves exist one day and then erased the next and for no good reason other than hate and bias.”

Kilmnick added the community’s response showed an “outpouring of support and love.”

“There are more people on the side of equality, equity, safety and love than on the other side,” he said. “We just all have to work together and not be afraid, and it showed what we can do in a very fast, rapid, effective way when we do this together.”

The pride displays in the Smithtown Library branches will remain until July 15.

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One of the new signs on a local lawn. Photo from Setauket Presbyterian Church Facebook

Despite the turbulence the country has been enduring for the past few months, Three Village residents and those in surrounding areas are showing support for all human beings.

Signs featuring the colors of the rainbow with additional black, brown, pink and blue stripes, and bearing the messages, “Our faith community celebrates pride” on one side and “Our faith community celebrates diversity” on the other, have popped up on random lawns the last couple of weeks. The signs are the result of a committee made up of local clergy members and lay people from various faith communities, according to the Rev. Ashley McFaul-Erwin, community outreach pastor at Setauket Presbyterian Church.

The pastor said the group was in the early stages of planning the first Three Village pride walk for June but then the pandemic happened. The members threw around the idea of a car parade but weren’t sure how they could do that safely and decided the signs would enable them to display the message in front of their homes and religious buildings.

McFaul-Erwin said it was an important message to share with many Christian churches having discriminated against the LGBTQ community in the past. The blue and pink stripes were added to represent transgender people and black and brown stripes are to show unity with people of color.

The Rev. Linda Anderson, community minister in affiliation with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook, said she thought it was a brilliant idea.

“The signs will last longer than a parade,” she said. “They can be spread out more widely. It’ll just keep saying the message of peace, love of humanity, justice and fairness.”

Elaine Learnard, a Quaker and member of Conscience Bay Friends Meeting, agreed.

“I think it’s a great way to do it and very creative during this time where everything is so crazy,” she said.

Barbara Ransome, director of operations of the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, was part of the committee as a member of Conscience Bay Friends Meeting. She said she has one on her lawn and also placed one in front of the chamber office.

“With all the stress going on — George Floyd’s death, rallies, COVID-19, etc. — this is a symbol of unity,” Ransome said.

McFaul-Erwin said the Setauket Presbyterian Church also placed a pink triangle on the Village Green with 51 flags. She said the flags are “in memory of all who have been harmed by churches throughout the years. We want to repent for harm done as well as celebrate.”