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Newlywed Christine Quinn Marches in Queens Pride Parade

By  Smriti Rao and Paul Lomax | June 4, 2012 9:59am 

The annual Gay Pride March take place in Jackson Heights, Queens on June 3rd, 2012.
The annual Gay Pride March take place in Jackson Heights, Queens on June 3rd, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Paul Lomax

JACKSON HEIGHTS—Hundreds of people cheered and waved rainbow-colored flags as newlywed Speaker Christine Quinn joined the 20th Annual Queens Pride Parade in  Jackson Heights Sunday.

The march took up 37th Avenue from 84th Street to 75th Street and featured colorful costumes, floats, dance music and bands to celebrate the multi-cultural festival hosted by Appolonia Cruz with performances by Martha Wash - of "It's Raining Men!' fame - along with a host of local talent.

“I don’t think I could have got married if it wasn’t for the love and support of all these people,” Quinn said.

Roughly  50,000 people were expected to have taken part in this year’s parade, according to the organizers.

“20 years ago, you could barely get one elected official to march in this parade,” said parade founder and City Councilman Daniel Dromm. “Now, every official from Queens is here.”

The borough’s largest celebration of gay and lesbian pride drew not just locals but also folks from across the city.

Joseph Villane, 40, a.k.a. the "Rainbow Button Man" rated the Queens Gay Pride event as friendlier than the New York City Pride March and said, "I think the Manhattan Gay March is still No. 1, the Brooklyn Pride Parade is No. 3 because it's at night and all the lights are really pretty.

Adding, "Although I have to say that Queens Pride Parade is No. 3 out of all of them it's definitely the more intimate one.

Victor Velez, 23, from Astoria, Queens, agreed saying, "The people here are much friendlier than New York, but I still go to Pride in Manhattan every year."

Pedro Frisneda, 41, originally from Venuezuela but now living in Chelsea, said, "It's (Queens Gay Pride Parade) just more fun here. It's not as crazy and packed out with thousands of people. You can walk around here and enjoy the atmosphere more."

The crowd cheered loudly as local LGBT organizations from Queens including this year’s grand marshals “Queens Center for Gay Seniors” took center stage.

The center is the only place in the borough that offers recreational facilities for older LGBT folks.

The biggest cheers in Sunday’s event, however, were reserved for 14-year old trans-gender youth, Rocky Sinabria.

Sinabria, who lives in Woodside, was honored by Dromm and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer for coming out and being brave about his identity.

Taunted for years by classmates as a “He/She,” Sinabria said he felt supported by his community and his family, adding he felt a sense of “self-achievement” by attending events like Sunday’s parade.

“I feel more confident of who I am,” the teenager said. “That there are other people like me.”