AUBURN — The New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center embraced every color of the spectrum Saturday.
Rainbows could be seen everywhere at the center in downtown Auburn for the LGBTQ Pride Rainbow Rally, on everything from capes to heart-shaped stickers. The rally was a part of Auburn's Pride Month celebrations. Auburn City Clerk Chuck Mason said World Pride events coming to New York City this year and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall raid, after patrons of the gay bar Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village clashed with police in 1969, "provided the catalyst to start Auburn's first Pride celebration."
Mason said it felt good to see so many people at the event, and that the city plans to celebrate Pride Month every year.
"It's good to see that people came out and helped celebrate the cause," he said.
Aiden Patch, who was at the event with friends — many of whom were decked out in rainbows — said he enjoyed the event.
"I needed to be here to express myself and to show how important the LGBTQ+ community is," Patch said.
Sly Taylor, who was with Patch's group, said he was surprised and impressed by how many older people in Auburn attended the event. The group Patch and Taylor were with shook their heads in unison at that assessment.
Later, the group and many others could be seen dancing along to the sounds of Diana Jacobs Band, who performed tunes like "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars and "Love Train" by The O'Jays.
Blake Chamberlain was painting at a table. Chamberlain, whose portrait of black trans woman and activist Martha P. Johnson could be seen on promotional materials for Auburn's Pride Month events, is the center's artist in residence for Pride Month. Chamberlain, who is transgender, said he feels it is important to celebrate transgender people from U.S. history. Chamberlain said he felt seeing so many people come together at the rally was inspiring.
Amanda Spagnola and her son Nikoli Wydick drew a heart in chalk nearby. Amanda said Nikoli, 6, and Nikoli's father and her partner, Keith Wydick, had heard the music from the event from their home nearby and wanted to check it out.
Keith said he was glad they came to the event and noted he enjoyed seeing the center, which he said he had never visited before. Keith said he does roofing for a living and was impressed by the center on a structural level.
Spagnola said she was happy about the LGBTQ support at the event
"It's nice to see that it's spreading through the world," she said. "People are coming together to support other people and it's truly amazing."
Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.
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