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Some Pro-Palestine Queer Groups Boycotted Queens Pride, While Others Tried to Reclaim It

"We made the decision to occupy space and come out in full force for Palestine." 

(Hell Gate)

Once considered New York's most radical Pride parade, Queens Pride, which takes place every year in Jackson Heights, has gone the route of many long-standing Pride events—increasingly corporate (its lead sponsor this year was Mets owner Steve Cohen), run by a large NGO that supports gay causes generally (the LGBT Network, a Long Island-based nonprofit), and more and more lacking the revolutionary politics that many queer groups see as the very basis of Pride (Eric Adams and the NYPD led the parade last year). 

This year's Queens Pride on Sunday featured what appeared to be the fewest groups marching since the parade came back after a pandemic-induced break in 2022. Several groups opposed to Israel's war on Gaza boycotted the march, due to the LGBT Network's support of "settler-colonial apartheid regime of Israel and its genocide of Palestinians." In November, the organization rallied LGBTQ groups in support of Israel, and in an October op-ed, LGBT Network president David Kilmnick chastised LGBTQ groups for not rallying behind Israel

"As a collective of queer Indigenous Tibetans who consider Jackson Heights our home in exile, we no longer want to participate in a Queens Pride overseen by pro-NYPD organizations that platform Zionism while Palestinians, queer and otherwise, are under siege," wrote the Tibetan Equality Group in a Medium post explaining their decision to boycott

Some organizations took a different tack. Tarab NYC, a group that represents queer Arab, Middle Eastern, and North African New Yorkers, decided not to boycott Queens Pride. Instead, the group called, on social media, for marchers to join with them to "reclaim" the radical spirit of the event.

"LGBT Network was not in charge of Queens Pride until two years ago, and before that it was an independently community-run entity. And since they've taken it over, they've run it over with corporations and the cops," said Bashar Makhay, the founder of Tarab NYC. "We made the decision to occupy space and come out in full force for Palestine." 

(Hell Gate)

The group had originally been put last in the parade order, but other groups, including the Caribbean Equality Project, and Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her contingent, decided to help them move to the center of the march instead. 

"Communities of color, in the first entire half of the march, really were not included," said Makhay.

Many marchers throughout the parade carried Palestinian flags, as did viewers on the sidewalk, as several groups chanted slogans like "Palestine will be free!" and "No pinkwashing of genocide!"

Sai, who doesn't use a last name, with the South Asian LGBTQ group SALGA NYC, was marching because she believed that it was important for queer communities to not let the LGBT Network define them.

"On their website, they say we need to stand with Israel, but we're against genocide. We're Muslims, Hindus, people of all faiths, and we see the liberation of the Palestinian people as liberation for us here," Sai told Hell Gate. 

Queens Councilmember Tiffany Cabán said while she attended, and called for an end to the genocide in Palestine as part of her public remarks, she understood why some felt the need to boycott. 

"Both tactics are valid," she told Hell Gate. "But those marching did so because they believed this parade was born out of something really beautiful, it's important, and they want to reclaim it. There's plenty of groups centering Palestine, and I'm wearing my keffiyeh today."

There were no disruptions to the rather sedate parade this year, even with the controversy. 

For Makhay, Queens Pride is bigger than just acting as an ad for Steve Cohen's casino project, whose emblem was emblazoned on the lampposts on 37th Avenue, promoting the Pride parade.

"Jackson Heights is not going to change. Jackson Heights is still going to be the queer beauty of diversity that it is, and the LGBT Network cannot change that—it will always be a beacon of diversity and queerness," Makhay said. 

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