Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturday Evening in Huntington: La Bouche performs at Long Island Pride in Heckscher Park

Although we were really busy this afternoon and had to miss the Long Island Pride parade and the earlier high heel race, we at least got to spend a bit of time this evening at PrideFest in Huntington's beautiful Heckscher Park, where we made it our business to see La Bouche, the dance-pop duo we remember fondly from the mid-90s, with Lane McCray and Dana Rayne and sweet memories of the late great Melanie Thornton. It was wonderful to see so many hundreds of people out for Long Island Pride 2012. We arrived after 6 p.m., just in time to catch PrideFest's fabulous host, Sir Honey Davenport, introduce La Bouche to an incredibly enthusiastic crowd celebrating LGBT pride. Long Island Pride traces its origins to 1991 when Long Island Lesbian and Gay Pride Freedom Committee founders Leah Gustavson, David Kilmnick, Cara Wilson and Steve Henaghan approached the Town of Huntington to grant a permit to hold the first Pride Parade. The request was denied by the town on the grounds that only “traditional” parades were allowed on Huntington’s streets. The committee was represented by the ACLU and the matter was heard in a federal court on May 28, 1991 by Judge Leonard D. Wexler who ruled in favor of the committee and granted the parade permit. The first Long Island Pride Parade was held on June 9, 1991, exactly 21 years ago. We've been coming to Huntington since our dad and uncle and their partners opened their first Pants Set store in the Walt Whitman Shopping Center here in 1966 when we were a 15yo high school junior beginning to have the pleasure of noticing other boys in a way we hadn't quite done so before. And although we haven't spent much time in Huntington lately, we have fond memories of afternoons at the Cinema Arts Center and Book Revue, just hanging out in town, and lunches at the house of an older gay couple who lived by the bay. For about an hour on the park's Chapin Rainbow Stage, La Bouche put on an incredible show, featuring hits from back in the day that a lot of the people here probably weren't around to listen to when they were first hot: "Be My Lover," "You Won't Forget Me," the duo's delicious covers of "Fallin' in Love" and our favorite, "Sweet Dreams." And then there's the gorgeous song "In Your Life," producer Frank Farian's marvelous 2002 release of the previously unreleased number, which now serves as tribute to Marie Thornton after her death in a plane crash -- and it works spectacularly well, as it always did, for GLBT audiences. Community groups and vendors set up tents and booths in Hecksher Park, and in the pavilion there was HIV testing and other health screenings. Also on hand were eight gourmet food trucks, along with a children's area featuring cotton candy, face painting, magicians, and other cool stuff for kids. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves near the end of the day at LI Pride. We're grateful we got to see La Bouche perform tonight and really grateful for all the people who worked so hard to make Long Island Pride such a great event for those of us who attended. (Parade photo courtesy Newsday)

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