The Queens Pride Parade formed in response to Rivera’s murder and, more directly, to the 1992 homophobic outcry over the inclusion of gay and lesbian content in the Children of the Rainbow curriculum, which was designed to teach children tolerance of all of New York City’s diverse communities. As a result, current City Council Member Daniel Dromm, who was then a public school teacher in the borough’s Community School District 24 (where the controversy was centered), came out as openly gay and decided to counter the ensuing propaganda with a family-friendly celebratory parade that would promote LGBT visibility and pride, and be based in a neighborhood where many closeted gay people lived.
“I wanted people to know that lesbians and gay men were their family, friends, and neighbors.”
On November 22, 1992, the initial planning meeting was held in Dromm’s Flushing apartment, and the formation of the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee (QLGPC) followed soon after at a meeting of Queens Gays and Lesbians United (Q-GLU). Co-chaired by Dromm and Cuban-born LGBT rights activist Maritza Martinez, QLGPC canvassed neighborhood gay bars for donations and support. Dromm later recalled that some bar owners were resistant, “It was a very quiet lesbian and gay community — a large one but not a very visible one. [People were worried] that if they became visible, they would pay a price.”
The first Queens Pride Parade and Multicultural Festival took place on Sunday, June 6, 1993, and an estimated 10,000 people attended. The parade route ran from 89th to 75th Streets along 37th Avenue, which was painted with a lavender line. The accompanying stage show featured drag queen and transgender performers, who were also pivotal beforehand in helping to raise money and promote the parade at the gay bars where they regularly entertained. Martinez gave a bilingual speech, with the following spoken in Spanish:
“We know that many gay and lesbian Latinos live here in Queens. This is the moment, with this parade, to come out of the closet and demonstrate that we are Latinos and gays!”