In third year, Riverdale Pride celebrates being LGBTQ+


Community leaders held the third annual Riverdale Pride celebration of the local LGBTQ+ community on Sunday, June 9.

Laura Levine-Pinedo of the Kingsbridge Riverdale Van Cortlandt Development Corp. and the 4Bronx Project, and Mike Gabert, owner of Flexis Media, organized the event.

“We started three years ago and we didn’t know exactly what was going to happen or how it was going to happen but it was very well received that first year,” Gabert said, adding it all started when Levine-Pinedo posted in the Riverdale Facebook group she wanted to do something to celebrate Pride month, which occurs during the month of June to celebrate the LGTBQ+ community.

Levine-Pinedo said there was no specific catalyst for the creation of the event, she just felt greater Riverdale could have the opportunity to be more welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community, so she took it upon herself to make a change.

“We felt that the community would benefit from this,” Levine-Pinedo said. “We have many members of the LGBTQ+ in Riverdale and we wanted to create a day where they felt like they were celebrated. In order for us to say that we are truly a community, everyone has to feel a part of it.”

In the three years Riverdale Pride has been held, more and more community members come out to join the festivities every time.

“We’re attracting more attention, some of it’s negative but most of it, by far, is positive,” Gabert said.

Despite negative attention, Gabert said it never occurs at the actual Pride event; just online trolls who are negative where they cannot be seen. Regardless of the source though, Gabert said they take all hate seriously in order to best protect the community.

For both Gabert and Levine-Pinedo, this event is about welcoming the greater Riverdale community and reminding local LGBTQ+ people they have people supporting them where they live.

“I want to assure the community that there are people who love them and support them, and just because people say these things online they may appear to be the loudest but they are not the majority or the consensus,” Levine-Pinedo said.

The day’s festivities included a drum line performed by FogoAzul, stilt walkers, carnival games, food trucks and a “rainbow market” filled with various local vendors.

A big portion of the day was the Paws of Pride Doggie Parade in which dogs and their owners get to strut for the crowd and the first place is determined with applause.

The festival is designed to be family-friendly for people of all ages to join in the celebration. Gabert acknowledges that LGTBQ+ people span generations, so they envisioned a celebration that could include the elderly and a younger population.

A consistent conversation surrounding the big New York City Pride Parade is how sexualized it can become.

“We wanted to make it more community oriented where you can learn and have fun,” Gabert said.

Groups like Mosaic Health were invited to talk about mental health among LGBTQ+ community members, and students from Riverdale Country School attended to perform a reading for the crowd.

The event is held every year at the Riverdale Neighborhood House, which offers up the space for the event for free.

Earlier this year, Levine-Pinedo also joined Bronx borough president Vanessa Gibson’s LGBTQ+ task force as part of her commitment to bring further resources to greater Riverdale.

“Riverdale is a welcoming place and we just want to ensure people that they are safe and they are celebrated here,” Levine-Pinedo said.

Riverdale Pride, LGBTQ+ community, Laura Levine-Pinedo, Mike Gabert, family-friendly celebration, community support