KINGSTON, NEW YORK – Longtime activist and founder of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Pride March Denise Jelley and Dutchess County legislator Francena Amparo will serve as the Grand Marshals for this year’s Hudson Valley Pride March and Festival. Sponsored and produced by the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center, the ninth annual event will take place in the village of New Paltz on Sunday, June 2, and centers on the theme, “Celebrating Where It All Began”.
The Pride March begins with a rally at 12 p.m. at New Paltz Middle School, and steps off promptly at 1 p.m. Award-winning performers including singer-songwriter Pamela Means and rock group Sister Funk will take the stage as the Pride celebration concludes with a festival at Hasbrouck Park. The March, Festival and a “Party-After-Pride” at Joe’s East-West in New Paltz typically attract upwards of 2,500 attendees, and mark the culmination of a week of activities celebrating LGBTQ identities, culture and community. ”We are proud to welcome Denise and Francena as this year’s Pride Grand Marshals,” said Vanessa Shelmandine, Project Director at Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center. A longtime advocate for LGBTQ equal rights, Denise Jelley spearheaded the first New Paltz LGBTQ Pride March and Festival – later renamed the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Pride March and Festival – in 2005. This first Hudson Valley Pride event laid the foundation for the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center. An openly lesbian elected official and the first Hispanic woman to serve on the Dutchess County legislature, Francena Amparo was elected in 2011 to represent Dutchess County’s 14th District. Francena’s work has helped build equality in such areas as access to health care, enterprise development and legal rights. ”This year’s Grand Marshals both demonstrate that a person thinking and taking action locally can change lives,”
Shelmandine said. “Denise chose New Paltz for the first Pride March in 2005 to celebrate Mayor Jason West’s first same-sex marriages. Francena uses her base in Wappingers to make a difference throughout Dutchess County. Plans for this year’s LGBTQ Pride Week, celebrated Tuesday, May 28 through Sunday, June 2, include film screenings, an open mic night and other events held at the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center in uptown Kingston. The Pride events bring the LGBTQ community and its allies together in celebration by reaching out to members, potential members and friends in the Hudson Valley and beyond. For more information about this year’s LGBTQ Pride March and Festival and other Pride Week events, visit www.lgbtqcenter.org.