When I walked into Nyack Beach Bath House for the Rockland Pride Ball, I didn’t quite know what to expect—However, I knew the theme was woodland fantasy so I knew it would be right up my alley! As I entered their moss red carpet, I was immediately blown away.
I had entered a magical, mystical wonderland! There were people dressed as faeries and ornate decorations throughout the whole venue, including my absolute favorite—a candle alter.
Twirling around the venue, I turned to my friend Shontay with a full heart and exclaimed, “This place is so Instagram-able!”
You see, small town LGBTQ+ centers have a very special place in my heart—I used to work at one not too far away from Rockland County. Upstate New York is a beautiful place and the rural queer and trans community are my roots. I was filled with so much joy when I saw how incredibly the Rockland Pride Center is flourishing with this event.
“In early 2016, members of the LGBT community and their allies formed the Rockland County Pride Center (RCPC) to house and expand these programs and services under its own roof,” Diana Wilkins, Deputy Director of RCPC tells GO. “In fact, it was just eighteen months ago that the Rockland Pride Center was incorporated.”
RCPC provides an array of services to LGBTQ+ members in the community from social support networks to cultural and educational programs. But it is no easy feat being a small LGBTQ+ center in America during the current presidency.
“The more attacks the LGBTQ community faces the more committed and determined RCPC becomes in service of our commitment to the principle of equality for all with no exceptions,” Wilkins says. “We will continue to fight to ensure that the rights of this community and the gains we have achieved, which are still so fragile and patchwork, are not rolled back and in fact, are expanded and extended so that all members of our community, indeed all members of all oppressed communities, are protected. We are proud that our community has stepped up to make sure we are able to carry on this vital work.”
Throughout the evening as I mingled about the buzzing crowds—I just knew that this was a room filled with people who never lost hope. The people who showed up to support RCPC are the type who continue the resistance every day, no matter what new challenge is sent our way as a community. These are the type of people to persevere. As executive director Brooke Malloy took the stage, everyone fell quiet—soaking up her every word and cheering with enthusiasm. As she proclaimed “When you come for one of us,” everyone immediate cheered back to her “You come for all of us!”
“The Rockland Pride Center’s mission is to support and celebrate the LGBTQ community, challenge stereotypes, and practices that adversely impact the LGBTQ community,” Wilkins says. “By providing a wide range of programming and services, the Pride Center will ensure equitable resources and opportunities for all with no exceptions.”
With this event, in particular, the center wanted to bring in a fusion of our past and present. Their inspiration for decor was “Chronicles of Narnia” meets “Studio 54″—and they truly nailed it. The event was fueled largely by volunteers and local artists to create a fantasy vibe that we all needed. It was an incredible experience, to take a break from the outside world and enter a magical land of fellow gays right on the Hudson River with views rolling mountains as the backdrop.