HUDSON — When Charlie Ferrusi was crowned prom king and another boy crowned queen at Hudson High School a decade ago, he didn’t think about making history.
To him, what stuck out in his mind was the affirmation that will stay with him forever: He knew he was accepted by his peers. The honor earned him one of the spots as grand marshal in the first OutHudson Pride Parade in 2010.
“I am lucky to have grown up in Hudson,” Ferrusi said. “Thinking back to my 16- and 17-year-old self, it showed me there is a local, loving community of people that will support you, and that Columbia County is a safe place for young people to come out.”
Ferrusi, now 26, shows his appreciation by helping to plan Pride Festival in June each year. The week-long celebration of the LGBTQ community in Hudson is organized by OutHudson.
The parade is part of OutHudson Pride Festival, which started Wednesday and runs until Sunday, and features 12 events at different locations around the city, sponsored by OutHudson.
Hudson was one of the first communities in the Hudson Valley to host a Pride parade. This year, Poughkeepsie celebrated its first Pride Parade on Main Street.
The Hudson parade will step off at 2 p.m. Saturday from 7th Street Park and head down Warren Street.
This year, the parade will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City, a series of violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that began June 28, 1969, at the popular nightspot known as the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.
Whether it is a book signing at the Spotty Dog Books & Ale, 440 Warren St., or a movie screening at House Rules Cafe, 757 Columbia St., businesses throughout the city have jumped at the chance to host events to help support the festival throughout the week, Ferrusi said. That’s an encouraging thought for the LGBTQ community, he said.
Fourth Ward Alderman Rich Volo is one of the organizers for Pride happenings in the city and finds the event inspiring for young people.
“When I was growing up, I was bullied almost daily — that probably gave me the best training for Hudson politics,” Volo said. “It’s not right, and boys and girls should be able to express themselves, outside of standard gender roles and definitions, without fear.”
“Growing up in a small city, where a Pride parade is an annual event, where everyone attends, helps these kids understand that they have the support of their community, so that they can grow up free to be themselves,” Volo said.
To that end, OutHudson annually sponsors a $1,000, four-year college scholarship for LGBTQ teens and their allies who are supporting or doing work on the topic.
Political affiliations and divides are dropped at the parade, Ferrusi said.
“I think for our local residents, it is not a partisan parade,” Ferrusi said. “It is really a parade that reflects the diversity of Hudson. It shows people have our backs regardless.”
On Saturday, Etsy will be hosting a family craft fair from 3 to 6 p.m. at Promenade Hill Park. Poke the Bear will be on stage at Or Gallery & Tavern from 3 to 6 p.m. Sherry Vine @ Club Helsinki, 405 Columbia St. Admission is $25; doors open at 5 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.
The show Faeries, Freaks & Fantasies will be held at Basilica Hudson, 100 S. Front St., from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. Admission is $10.
On Sunday, a Tea Dance will be held at Red Dot, 321 Warren St., from 4 to 9 p.m.
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.