Main Street News

Rhinebeck and Red Hook Join Forces in BeckHook Pride’s Upcoming Celebrations

By Published On: June 5th, 2024

In honor of Pride Month this June, we will be highlighting local Pride organizations that support and empower the region’s LGBTQ+ community. The modern LGBTQ+ rights movement began with The Stonewall Rebellion on June 27th, 1969, in protest of the NYPD’s raids on gay bars. According to the Trevor Project, “Thousands took to the streets in the days and weeks that followed, leading community organizations to form globally, and the first Gay Pride march to mark the uprising one year later.” Trans women of color Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were pioneers in organizing and progressing this movement. To learn more about pivotal events and individuals in LGBTQ+ history, the Trevor Project has created a comprehensive document, which you can access here.

Last spring, good friends Marie-Michele Mugnos and Debbie Hecht were asked by their children (who are also good friends) about the absence of a local Pride celebration. This inquiry was enough to spark inspiration; despite the serious time constraints they faced, Debbie explains, “Michele and I took it and ran with it.” Because it was April, with little time to acquire the necessary permits, the event came to fruition thanks to the pivotal generosity of and collaboration with local community members. Father Richard McKeon offered Rhinebeck’s Episcopal Church of the Messiah as a space where the event could be hosted, while Starr Library closely participated in the planning of the celebration. Debbie and Michele recall that the event was fully arranged after mere weeks: “It was pretty magical. But the real magic happened when all the people showed up. It was then and there that we realized that our community needed and deserved an official Pride organization to be of service to them year-round.”

Fulfilling BeckHook Pride’s mission

Thus, with Debbie based in Rhinebeck and Michele based in Red Hook, BeckHook Pride was born. Jean Michel was the third founding board member of this organization, and Kym Bradley-Rickard has since joined the team as Secretary. Despite the name, they clarify that this group’s services apply to the entire Northern Dutchess area, allowing BeckHook “to provide not just safe, but also joyful spaces for our local LQBTQIA+ community and allies to gather, meet, and celebrate who they are.”

BeckHook achieves this aim by offering a variety of programs throughout the entire year to ensure that a range of age groups can get involved. These events include a Queer and Trans Game Night, hosted in collaboration with Megabrain Comics’ Jean Michel, and Q-Club, organized in partnership with the Red Hook Public Library as “a social group for LGBTQIA+ youth to gather, make friends, and participate in activities.” Michele and Debbie add that this spring, they recently hosted a gender-neutral Contra Dance. As for future initiatives, BeckHook is working to create a Little Free Pride library with Starr Library, who is funding this project and will soon implement this offering permanently on their property. The Little Free Pride library highlights free books about LGBTQIA+ identity and themes, donated by a number of sources and provided for the entire community.

Exciting Pride Month events

BeckHook’s Pride Month festivities will commence this year with a Kick-Off Party at the RhineCellar in Rhinebeck. Held from 7-9pm on June 8th, this celebration will feature entertainment from Perry Foster and Jim Kenney Rogers, and pride cocktails will be served. Additionally, those in attendance can enter a sensational raffle for a chance to win a $400 Brooklyn Millinery Company gift card! All proceeds raised through this fundraiser will go toward BeckHook Pride’s programming for the year.

The next day, June 9th, Rhinebeck Community Pride Day will be hosted by the Episcopal Church of the Messiah from 2-5pm. Here, attendees can enjoy a ton of engaging, free offerings, including food, giveaways, resources, games, crafts, dancing, and live music performances from four local LGBTQIA+ groups and performers. The fun doesn’t end there: a clothing swap and trans closet, in addition to a photo booth, yoga tent, and drag story time will also take place. Debbie and Michele describe, “It will be the culmination of our community raffle, featuring amazing offerings from 20 different local businesses in support of our LGBTQIA+ programming and community.”

BeckHook will keep highlighting Pride all month long. On June 17th at 7:30pm, they will be hosting a free Queer Family Movie Night presented by Upstate Films in Rhinebeck and sponsored by CultureConnect Rhinebeck. To make a reservation as space is limited, you can visit BeckHook Pride or CultureConnect on their social media pages. Furthermore, Queer and Trans Game Night and Q-Club programming will continue throughout June. Excitingly, along with all these wonderful activities, BeckHook is presenting an inaugural Red Hook Pride Parade, which is sponsored by the village and will occur on June 22nd from 10am-12:30pm. After the event, there will be a celebratory festival on the municipal lot with music, crafts, face painting, and local food vendors.

Pride is essential for the community

While June has just begun and BeckHook is quite a new organization, its positive impact has already been evidenced all across the community, reinforcing the significance of a local Pride presence. “Moreover,” Michele and Debbie say, “it allows the allies in the larger community to show up for the LGBTQIA+ community in a meaningful and conspicuous way.” They illustrate this point by referencing the encouragement and collaboration they have received from the area’s public libraries, the Red Hook Community Center, and several local businesses. Red Hook, Rhinebeck, and Tivoli businesses are contributing raffle items or taking part in discount cards for BeckHook’s Pride Celebration, and the Red Hook Mayor, Karen Smythe, has generously played a pivotal role in the organization of the Red Hook Pride Parade. “It’s not hard to see how our local LGBTQIA+ community would feel loved and supported by all of this,” they remark.

Indeed, this level of support and inclusivity is especially pivotal today, when LGBTQIA+ rights are, in many ways, under attack. In talking about BeckHook’s importance, Debbie and Michele point out how Pride has taken on multiple layers of purpose: “In the moment, it’s a celebration of who we are in our beautiful and diverse LGBTQIA+ community. Looking forward, it’s no secret that our community is under attack by people using us to score cheap and dangerously earned political points. Not only do we need each other in these difficult times, but it’s all the more important to show up and celebrate who we are in the face of these attacks.”

To Michele and Debbie, it is vital to recognize that Pride holds an uplifting power as both a celebration of identity and community, and a protest that defends diversity and empowerment. They encapsulate this sentiment quite aptly, noting, “While our year-round programming is very important to us, it’s true that Pride Month is the jewel in the LGBTQIA+ crown.”

All images from the 2023 Rhinebeck-Red Hook Pride Celebration, courtesy of BeckHook Pride. To support BeckHook Pride’s mission and get involved with their organization, you can go to their website to learn more, donate, and sign up to volunteer at one of their events or receive their newsletter.