Leading the way for LGBT pride

Jack Nix and Allison McCann are friends and colleagues. They knew about great Gay Pride events in Long Beach, Huntington, the Hamptons and New York City, but there were none closer to home.

“And especially for our age group,” Nix said, looking at McCann. “There are not many opportunities to celebrate who we are. And this is the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.” That would be The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar and now a National Historic Landmark on Christopher Street and Waverly Place in Manhattan, where riots launched the gay pride movement.

So they brought their idea, an Alive After Five Pride event, as well as fundraising for the LGBT Network, to the AAF committee. This year an Alive After Five Pride event will take place June 27.

“This is not a Steve Bellone event,” emphasized McCann. “It’s us as friends. That’s why we started our careers in government, because we are civically engaged.” McCann lives in Smithtown, Nix in East Patchogue. Nix was also just sworn in vice president of the South Country Board of Education.

They first spoke with Tiffany Rivera, Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce vice president, about a Pride possibility three weeks ago.

“They were introduced to me by Amy Keyes [assistant deputy county executive for Intergovernmental Affairs], who’s also a Patchogue resident,” Rivera said. (Nix and McCann both work in the county’s Intergovernmental Affairs Department.)

“They talked about their idea over coffee and wanted to do a fundraiser for the LGBT Network at Rhum,” said Rivera, who is a manager there. Rivera suggested several events, especially those that involve family activities and pets. Rivera said several LGBT Rhum staffers requested those inclusions. “The restaurants were very receptive and when I asked which one wanted to host an event, everyone raised their hand,” she said.

“The efforts of Jack and Allison are amazing,” said LGBT Network president and CEO David Kilmnick. “What the funds will support are anti-bullying workshops, more access to healthcare services, which includes HIV testing, and support services in schools to make them safe.” Kilmnick said the Alive After Five Pride event was an expansion of a two-week Long Island Pride celebration with the largest one in Long Beach; others will include the North Fork, the Hamptons and Fire Island.

Kilmnick’s group moved out of their Bay Shore base last week to Hauppauge to make room for the LGBT affordable senior housing being built. The new Patchogue site, their fifth location, which will provide health-care social services and more programs for the LGBT community in part of the Gateway Shopping Center, is about a year away from being gutted and renovated, he said.

“I think everyone wants to see an event like this here,” McCann said. “I can’t hang out in the Hamptons or Huntington.”

Nix said he and McCann met with the AAF committee this week. “There are going to be nomination forms to nominate people to be honored who exemplify Pride in Patchogue,” he said. “We spoke to various restaurants about music and will include an education component about to how we got to where we are now.”

Nix added that the Alive After Five Pride event is scheduled the day before the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, Friday, June 28, and three days before New York City’s LGBT Pride on June 30.

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