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Pride should be celebrated all year, says this Glens Falls organizer

 Cam Cardinale, second from left, at the 2023 Glens Falls Pride Festival. Photo courtesy of Cam Cardinale
Photo courtesy of Cam Cardinale
Cam Cardinale, second from left, at the 2023 Glens Falls Pride Festival.

(NCPR) - Communities across the North Country are hosting festivals and events during Pride Month that promote inclusivity and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. Last weekend, hundreds of people gathered for the Glens Falls Pride Festival and this weekend Potsdam is hosting its own Pride Festival. Later this month, Saranac Lake will host the TriLakes Pride Festival.

Cam Cardinale, president of Lower Adirondack Pride, helped organize the Glens Falls Pride Festival and says promoting inclusivity year round would help grow and sustain the younger population throughout the Adirondack North Country.

EMILY RUSSELL: So you grew up in Glens Falls and came out as gay when you were younger, what was that like? And how did that experience shape the work that you do now?

CAM CARDINALE: So I came out in high school and that was an experience— I underwent a lot of bullying, a lot of pushback, and it was really not a great time. So that's really where this organization [Lower Adirondack Pride] comes from. And a different approach we're trying to take is to get into the schools and speak with the students and create events that are all ages, and that anyone can enjoy and just create a safe place within this community.

RUSSELL: The nearby community of Lake Luzerne had planned a Drag Queen Story Hour this spring. It was ultimately canceled and a new board member was actually elected who ran on a platform opposing the event. What do you think the takeaway from that whole thing is?

CARDINALE: Yeah, that was so unfortunate. Lake Luzerne is further out in the country than the city of Glens Falls. Especially for the youth community within Lake Luzerne who aren't feeling accepted, aren't supported by their community aren't supported by their family and their friends— we were really looking forward to that event and we were sad to see it ultimately canceled. We were honored to have no issues with our drag show this past Sunday. In Glens Falls we had seven queens and about a two-hour show, so it was awesome. And the audience was just so engaged and so respectful to the queens and it really was like a full circle moment for this area that this is okay, and this is accepted, and this is what it's going to be.

The Glens Falls Pride Festival featured performances by seven drag queens.
Photo courtesy of Cam Cardinale
The Glens Falls Pride Festival featured performances by seven drag queens.

RUSSELL: How do you think events like that, just publicizing the [LGBTQIA+] community more broadly and encouraging more inclusivity, how do you think that plays into like the future of this place?

CARDINALE: So as a younger professional in this area who stayed in this area, it's super important to have this programming to both attract younger people here and retain them and we're working with economic development professionals to do that. Because without this programming, without these events, there's really nothing holding the LGBTQIA+ community together. So that's really our goal is to retain and attract people here to Glens Falls and the surrounding communities because we have a lot of beautiful places here. And without events and community and support these people aren't going to stay.

RUSSELL: Talk a little bit about what kind of programs you've got coming up over this pride month.

CARDINALE: The Lower Adirondack Pride aims to have 12-month programming. This Saturday, June 10, from 5 pm to 8 pm we'll have a pride mixer at the LARAC Gallery in Glens Falls. Then on Friday, June 16, we will have a pride paint event at the Wood Theater at 7 pm and tickets are on sale for that now as well. Wednesday, June 21 at 5: 30 Lower Adirondack Pride will host its annual meeting at the Crandall Public Library. That's where folks can come to get involved and learn about the work we're doing and join committees if they're interested.

RUSSELL: How do you feel about the future of the pride movement and the LGBTQIA+ community in Glens Falls and in the broader North Country?

CARDINALE: The future is really looking colorful for the LGBTQIA+ community in the North Country. Not just our organization, but other pride organizations are bringing events, bringing such an amazing sense of community and sense of belonging to this area and that's really what it's all about. So we're really excited to see that future grow and have more events and have more support and be that connection for the community, for teens who are in a home where it's not going to be accepted and unfortunately, that's just a matter of fact. And again, attracting people here to our events, supplying our workforce with employees who are part of our community, because they moved here and we have these events and this support group and that kind of thing.

Copyright 2023, North Country Public Radio.