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CNY pride week comes during uncertain times for LGBTQ community

Tom Magnarelli
The LGBTQ flag is raised at Syracuse City Hall.

Across the country it is LGBTQ pride month and members of the community are celebrating in Syracuse this week. It comes at a time when some in the gay, lesbian and transgender community remain vigilant and are remembering a tragic anniversary.

The rainbow flag was raised at Syracuse City Hall earlier this week. Ron Mercer of Syracuse remembered when they were not allowed to do that.

“It just feels good to be able to have it here," Mercer said. "It’s acceptance at a time where I feel we’re losing acceptance.”

The general consensus in the crowd was that gay rights has come a long way, but there is still more work to be done. Bonnie Strunk with Focus on Awareness and Information Resources of New York said it is almost like one step forward and two steps back.

“The recognition of marriage equality was very important but unfortunately it also created a wave of backlash in many smaller ways,” Strunk said.

A memorial was also held for the one year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando Florida. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said tragedies like Orlando should not slow progress.

“The only thing that makes it progress is that we march together and we are not defeated by that violence,” Miner said.

CNY pride will host three events on Saturday including a 5K, a parade and a festival at Syracuse’s Inner Harbor. Troy Waffner is this year's grand marshal of the parade. Waffner is the acting director of the New York State Fair and helped designate an official pride day at the fair starting in 2015. Strunk spoke on his behalf at the flag raising and said it is important that there is a pride day at the fair.

"We just felt that there was a need to recognize the diversity of the people who are involved in the fair," Strunk said. "There is a very large LGBTQ presence at the fair in all sorts of fashions with venders, with exhibitors, with people that attend the fair. We just felt it was important to have that recognition of all the contributions the community has made."

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.