Out on LI 

Network News: July/August 2014

14474430203_8c220b0bcb_b18,000 Show Their Pride at the 24th Annual Long Island Pride Parade and PrideFest

More than 18,000 people took part in the 24th Annual Long Island Pride Parade and PrideFest on Saturday, June 14th. The all day festival started with a parade down Main Street in Huntington, with Grand Marshal Edie Windsor rolling down the route perched atop a convertible.

0144Windsor, a gay rights icon, whose lawsuit led to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was “thrilled and honored to be the Grand Marshal of the LI Pride Parade” and to march with Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY).

LIGALY is an organization of the Long Island GLBT Network (The Network), which hosts the Pride events each year. David Kilmnick, CEO of The Network, told News 12 that it was “just an incredible day for Long Island. Just to feel proud and celebrate in our hometown shows that we don’t have to go to New York City to be ourselves”.

Entertainers such as Taylor Dayne, Kristine W., Prince Poppycock and Joe Murena played to the largest crowd that PrideFest has ever seen and over 60 vendors were on site at Heckscher Park giving away freebies and selling a variety of goods and services.

Next year, LI Pride and PrideFest will be held on Saturday, June 13, 2015.

A Partnership Much Needed:
Long Island GLBT Network and Family Residences and Essential Enterprises (FREE)

Do you remember when you came out?  It’s a hard process for most. Now, add in another factor, you have a disability.  This can be a harder process because you have to come to terms with your disability before you can accept your sexuality. In general, our society does not recognize that an individual, who is differently-abled, could also be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning. Often times a family who has a differently-abled member knows how difficult it is to gain acceptance in society so they would rather ignore or deny the possibility of a member exploring their sexuality.  As a result, these individuals do not have the support that is needed from society and their families to come out and become “FREE To BE” who they are.

“Together… Creating the right solution for any need” is the vision statement of Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE). FREE is a 501(c)(3) founded in 1977 and headquartered in Old Bethpage. FREE benefits and proudly supports more than 3,500 individuals with intellectual disabilities, mental illness and traumatic brain injury.  FREE provides a diverse array of supports and services including: housing, recovery services, transition to work, employment, day, community and family services, respite, crisis services, education and after-school support, primary and specialty health care and advocacy.

About 4 years ago, Mary Greenfield who was working at a similar agency called ACLD (Association for Children with Learning Disabilities), approached the Chief Executive Officer of FREE, Robert S. Budd, about starting a support group for differently-abled individuals who needed support in coming to terms with their sexuality. Without hesitation, Robert S. Budd jumped at the opportunity and “FREE to BE” was born. Since 2010, “FREE to BE” has been successful in providing support and social events for differently-abled individuals to become more comfortable with who they are. Since then, “FREE to BE” holds monthly meetings and participates in social events such as the Long Island Pride Parade and Festival, movie nights and potluck dinners.

0389Recently, David Kilmnick, Chief Executive Officer and founder of the Long Island Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Network (The Network) and Robert S. Budd, Chief Executive Officer of FREE, shared the vision of partnering to create a support group for their differently-abled individuals.  David Kilmnick, Robert S. Budd and their teams have been working synergistically to create a new partnership between FREE and the The Network. The gifts and talents of each organization’s team members have allowed “FREE to BE” to become a resource and leader, not only for individuals who are differently-abled, but for team members, family members, allies and other agencies to provide and/or receive support services. This historic partnership was announced on May 2, 2014 at The Network’s 7th Annual Equality Awards Gala.

The Resource Center, which is located at FREE’s headquarters in Old Bethpage, will be providing services such as counseling, education and advocacy for our team members, family members and the individuals we support on behalf of the LIGLBT Network and the Family of FREE Network.

Differently-abled individuals who are questioning their sexuality need support and a voice.  Thanks to the new partnership between the LIGLBT Network and FREE, they now have a stronger and louder voice.

0397Over 150 Youth Attend the 14th Annual LIGALY Prom

Over 150 GLBT and allied youth from all over Long Island enjoyed an unforgettable prom night in a safe and welcoming environment at LIGALY’s 14th Annual GLBT Prom.

The prom was held at the Historical Thatched Cottage in Centerport on June 20, 2014 and featured a mocktail hour, a buffet dinner with an ice cream bar. Dr. Beat Production kept the music pumping all night long as youth danced the night away.

This years entertainment included a special performance from LIGALY’s Got Big Talent winner, Courtney Farbman, who uses sign language to dance and sign to music.

Every year, LIGALY’s prom crowns a Rainbow Court, where youth are chosen for each of the following categories: Red Evolution, Orange Welcoming, Yellow Jubilance, Green Harmony, Blue Brave, Purple Inspiration.

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