Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘My childhood in Babylon Village was a process of self-discovery, and I didn’t even know what being queer looked like.’

Babylon

“When I was growing up, being open and yourself was not always accepted. My childhood in Babylon Village was a process of self-discovery, and I didn’t even know what being queer looked like. I knew I was different but didn’t understand what that meant. There weren’t many, if any, open LGBTQA+ people here that I could look to when I was a child discovering my sexuality and identity.

“I moved to Southern California around age 13, where I started to semi-understand who I was, but even after many positive experiences as a teen I felt that my growth was done there. I wanted to come back home.

“Things were different in Babylon Village when I returned in my 20s. It was heartwarming to see my hometown evolved into being more open minded and respectful toward local LGBTQA+ people, but even with all this development, I still saw a need for something more in Babylon, for the showing of acceptance, appreciation and acknowledgement of our queer community. There was a need to mark progress and visibility, and that was beginning of what now has become Babylon Pride!

My pride journey is far from over, and I don’t know where the finish line is, but I’m excited to educate and evoke positive change along the way.

“Bob, a Babylon Village resident, and I got together and made it happen for the first time in 2020 during the pandemic. We went to the mayor’s office, and they agreed, saying our village needs a little uplifting, as the world was a heavy place at the time. We reached out to businesses and residents to make it happen, mainly by word of mouth, and pulled it together in seven days.

“I was in the last car to turn the corner onto the 2020 parade route. It was such a feeling of acceptance and love. A whole town coming together to support the LGBTQA+ community, tears came down my face.

“From last year to this year, the parade attendance doubled, which is kind of surreal for me. My pride journey is far from over, and I don’t know where the finish line is, but I’m excited to educate and evoke positive change along the way. We need to create change where we see and most desire it. I wanted to show that Babylon and Long Island can embrace our LGBTQA+ community and let that be known to our queer youth! Having acceptance in our own backyard speaks volumes.”