OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting Monday night, the Physical Services Committee paved the way for the Port City’s first gay pride parade and festival.
Gary L. Smith Jr., president of the Oswego Pride Committee, requested permission to host an Oswego gay pride parade and outdoor festival on October 12.
He also asked the committee for permission to use the Veterans’ Stage to hold a family-friendly drag show.
The committee voted 4-0 to send the requests to the full council for consideration next week.
The parade will originate in Breitbeck Park and head east on Lake Street to West Linear Park, Smith explained.
They plan to have a family-friendly event offering food vendors and craft booths set up by non-profit groups and agencies that are geared toward the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, he added.
There will also be an art exhibit, “Express Your Pride,” to focus on pride – showcasing local artists, expressing different people’s views on diversity in the community.
“Since we are anticipating having many people in attendance, with their families, we are also planning games and activities for children,” Smith said. “Hopefully with a bounce house, face painting and other activities for kids. We are not serving alcohol at all. It’s strictly family-friendly.”
In regard to the drag show, he pointed out that they will be featuring Disney music and “all costumes and music choices will be appropriate for all ages.
The parade would start around 11 a.m., and the festival would run from noon until 4 p.m.
“Obviously, this is something that has never happened here in Oswego,” committee chair Mike Myers said. “I see ‘drag show’ and I know people’s minds are going to go wild.”
“We are going at it more from a theatrical direction, a Disney theme. Drag is not new at all. Drag appeared in Shakespeare’s plays. Women were not allowed to perform on stage. So, all the female roles were played by men. In the script, it would say the character would enter ‘DRessed As Girl,'” Smith explained. So we’re just taking that and putting a little more flair on it, a little more theatrical twist on the thing.”
There won’t be anything inappropriate or of sexual nature, he told the committee.
“It’s not like your basic gay bar drag show,” he said.
“G-rated,” Myers said.
“Exactly,” Smith replied.
They “tested” parts of the show recently at the Relay For Life Walk, he said, adding that it was very well-received.
“We’re not looking to corrupt anyone. It’s strictly theater,” Smith said. “We’ll have music groups; we’re looking at bringing in some people from the Syracuse Gay and Lesbian Chorus.
Councilor Mike Todd asked if the college would be involved in the event.
Smith noted that the purposly scheduled the event in October so that the college students would be back and settled in.
“It (October) is National Gay and Lesbian Month. And the weekend of the 12th is National Coming Out Day,” he said.
Councilor Fran Enwright asked how many people would be in the parade.
Smith said he didn’t have a set figure, adding that the event isn’t until October; “Being the first time we’ve ever done this, it’s hard to say,” he said.
Councilor Ron Kapleweicz inquired about a raindate.
There isn’t a set raindate, Smith said. However, they have talked with representatives at The American Foundry who have indicated they can bring the show inside if need be. There just won’t be a parade, Smith noted.