Celebrating Pride: What Pride Means to Us

Dr. Robbins Gottlock (He/Him), Vice President & Associate Medical Director at Phelps Hospital, Northwell Health and founder of Phelps’ LGBTQIA+ Health Center of Excellence

To me, Pride is the acknowledgement and celebration of the existence, dignity, and intrinsic worth of the LGBTQIA+ community.  

Max Micallef (They/He/She), Public Policy Coordinator with GLSEN Lower Hudson Valley and Advisory Council Member for EqualityNY

Education will always be the first line of defense against ignorance. The Queer Liberation Movement is historically a movement of racial justice, socioeconomic justice, and the demand for quality, accessible healthcare. Pride Month is the celebration of our intersectional community and the reminder that progressive, and therefore comprehensive governmental action is what truly addresses LGBTQ+ needs. Marginalized needs.   

Gina Sanchirico (She/Her), Professional Development Co-Chair of GLSEN Lower Hudson Valley and Co-Chair of Putnam Sub-chapter of Westchester PFLAG

For me, the word “pride” represents the concept of how important inclusivity, acceptance and validation is for our LGBTQ community members and family members. Being visible enables acceptance and breaks the silence forced on the voices of those who want to live their lives as their true selves.    

Peg Breen (She/Her), Secretary and Board Member at GLSEN Lower Hudson Valley (with son Joseph Berkman-Breen (c) and son-in-law Winston Berkman-Breen)

In February of 2008 my son came out as gay. He was away at school and I was in Westchester, divorced and left alone to process. Things have changed a lot since then but what I felt soon after in June at the LOFT’s Pride event was relief, acceptance, and pure joy! I could feel the stress leave my body as I came to see he was going to be okay. I found this was a proud, joy-filled community he could thrive in! 

Kyla Black (She/Her), Sex Therapist (with wife Sarah Willis and daughter Zoe)

I am proud to be out to everyone I know about being Queer/Pansexual. I have Pride in being part of a global community of diverse folks who continue to fight to be recognized, validated and respected. I have pride in being a queer Sex Therapist, wife and mother who serves and advocates for my community at large. 




Brian Fassett (He/Him), President of Peekskill Pride (with Sepp Spenlinhauer)

Pride recognizes a legacy of resistance. It’s a time to reset and reflect on where we are in the struggle for equality. It’s a time for celebration and not simply inclusion. A time to tell your story, to commit to living your authentic self, and to be embraced for being you.   

Ben. E. Lukens (He/Him), Secretary of Peekskill Pride

Pride is a celebration of life, of community. It champions diversity and promotes authentic self-expression. Pride is inclusive of everyone. Be proud. Live your truth! 

Marybeth J. McGowan (She/Her), Vice President of Peekskill Pride (with wife Leslie Masson)

Pride recognizes that who I love does not define my character, nor does it define who I am meant to be. I celebrate Pride to honor those who came before me who fought so I could feel comfortable in my own skin. Pride recognizes that we have moved forward, but still have work to do to ensure the well-being and happiness of future LGBTQ+ers.  

Daniel Pierce (He/Him), Board Member of Peekskill Pride (with partner Steve, left)

I’m old enough to remember when the Stonewall Riots happened. Seeing and hearing news of those events, gave a feeling of empowerment by the fact that they had happened. It was a time of the liberation of many causes that had been unjust or unaddressed and suppressed in the years previous.  

Charles DiGruccio (He/Him), Board Member of Peekskill Pride

To me, pride is the cure for shame, and being able to accept yourself for who you really are.  






Antonio Knott (He/Him), Treasurer of Peekskill Pride

Gay pride is important to show how far we have come.  Relying on this pride is key because we have so much farther to go. I am thankful for the gay black heroes who paved the way, for example: Audrey Lorde, Bayard Rustin, James Baldwin, Ernestine Eckstein, Marsha P. Johnson, and countless others. On their shoulders, I proudly stand! 

Weston Siano (He/Him), Program Specialist at WJCS Center Lane

Pride is the ability to be unapologetically yourself without fear of having your authenticity invalidated. It’s the feeling of belonging to a space of celebration. It’s being embraced into a united family. Pride is a welcome home. 

Liz Verrastro (She/Her), Social Worker at WJCS Center Lane

Pride is the affirmation that you matter and can hold space in this world just as you are. 

David Diamond (He/Him), Program Specialist at WJCS Center Lane

Pride is power. It shows that coming out and being yourself is different for everyone, and we shouldn’t feel pressure to follow someone else’s path.  It shows that the LGBTQ community is not just what is on TV. It teaches us that there is a place for us in the world.  

Alec Gould (They/Them), student at The Masters School

The question about what pride means to me is interesting. Because pride in and of itself is known to leave out the people of color in the community, which is depressing since a trans black woman was the one who threw the first brick at Stonewall. I have never taken part in pride, but I really want to. It is awesome to see the photos from pride … they make me unbelievably happy to see people living their lives at their best and being true to themselves.  

Jill Ferson (She/Her), Director of the Substance Abuse Treatment Program with the Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital (with wife Linda Gangloff, left)

It means taking pride in who you are, your authentic self, and being among your peers. We want to be seen, and that’s what Pride was and still is for us.


  1. I am all for pride and LGB rights, but this pronoun stuff is out of control. And kids should not be taught that they can change their sex.

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About the Author: Caedra Scott-Flaherty