In lieu of one big celebration for Pride Month, the Otsego Pride Alliance is celebrating local diversity in gender identity and sexual orientation in a monthlong series of community events.

“Usually we have one big PrideFest,” said OPA President Elayne Mosher Campoli. “We’ve always said it would be nice if we could keep the celebration going all month long, and with the pandemic still going on, we thought there wasn’t a better time.”

OPA is kicking off the month dedicated to promoting dignity, equality, self-affirmation and increased visibility of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary and a multitude of other identities with a weekend series of events, beginning with a gender-affirming clothing swap and barbecue from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 4, at the Oneonta Teen Center.

Open to ages 12 to 19, the clothing swap offers some of the area’s youngest residents the opportunity to give up clothing they’ve outgrown or no longer wear and “accept clothing that may help affirm their gender identity,” Campoli said.

“Especially with teens and young adults, there may be limited resources,” she explained. “Clothing is a really simple way of fulfilling your gender identity, and it’s a really important part of building self-esteem and self-expression.”

“As trans people become more visible and come out of the closet, it creates more space for other people to come out,” Campoli said. “It’s not that there’s more trans people out there, it’s that they’re more comfortable coming out.”

“Our culture is getting more comfortable with the idea that identity is fluid,” she continued. “For so long, gender identity and sexual orientation was presented as a binary: you’re that or you’re this or you cross over. It’s more of a spectrum, which really gives people the chance to find a means of expression that suits them.”

The community is invited to watch OPA’s Drive with Pride parade at 2 p.m.* Saturday, June 5. Line up begins at 1:30 p.m. in Neahwa Park. After the parade, participants are invited to visit the memorial in the park for LGBTQ lives lost within the past year.

Following the parade, parents of LGBTQ youth are invited to an informal meetup.

“The idea is to build community,” Campoli said. “We think it’s important for people to know there’s an organization they can be supported by and to let them know we’re here.”

OPA is hosting Skate with Pride at Interskate 88 from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday, June 6. The family event is open to all ages with free admission, laser tag and $1 skate rentals.

Plans are in the works for a Hike with Pride on Saturday, June 12, and a Pride Night at Damaschke Field. Times and a hike location have yet to be determined, but will be announced on the Facebook page for Otsego Pride Alliance.

For more information and updates, follow “Otsego Pride Alliance” on Facebook.

*changed at 12:49 p.m. June 4 to correct time of event.

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