Pride in the Valley: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning in the Hudson Valley, NY

Our region has proven to be a welcoming place for members of the gay and lesbian community. This series of articles includes profiles of local gay couples raising families, a look at the LGBTQ Center in Kingston, and how a Poughkeepsie student helped to form a gay-straight alliance at his school

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It’s been eight long years since the Ulster County village of New Paltz became an overnight media sensation when Mayor Jason West decided he would marry same-sex couples in front of Village Hall. The following year, the first Pride Parade marched down Main Street. “I remember walking down Main Street, holding my girlfriend’s hand and hearing all these people cheering,” says Vanessa Shelmandine of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center in Kingston. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Of course, the social landscape for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning) individuals changed forever when same-sex marriage was legalized in New York State last year. But there has long been a vibrant gay life in the Valley, and it is finally coming out from under the “gaydar.” Here, we present snapshots of some of the region’s diverse LGBTQ members, take a look at various aspects of gay life (from socializing to school), and delve into some of the most pressing issues — including bullying — facing this growing community.


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