It's an annual smorgasbord of events that showcases the region's LGBT community, mixing celebration, advocacy and community engagement. WNY Pride Week began Tuesday, a rite of spring that is expected to attract more than 30,000 people from all walks of life.
About a dozen events will be staged, including a flag-raising ceremony on Niagara Square, the Big Gay Sing on Wednesday, the Gay 5K Run on Thursday and the Dyke March on Saturday. The Pride Parade will be held Sunday, as will the Pride Festival at Canalside.
One high-profile controversy will likely be on the minds of many participants this week. North Carolina's so-called "bathroom law" requires people to use the restroom of their gender at the time of birth. Many performers have canceled shows in North Carolina as a result of the law. Matthew Crehan Higgins, senior director of the Pride Center of WNY, notes the controversy has spurred discussion.
“The situation in North Carolina reminds us of the degree to which people can prey on what are really irrational fears," said Crehan Higgins. "And statistics bear out that in a bathroom situation that the transgender person is the person who’s at risk, not the person who’s perpetrating those difficulties.”
WBFO asked Crehan Higgins if he believes major strides have been made in the fight for equality.
"We, in the past five years especially, I would say, have seen tremendous progress," he replied. "With marriage equality first passing in New York State, from a local perspective, and then the Supreme Court making it legal in all 50 states."
Still, Crehan Higgins said the fight for equality is far from over.
Gay pride events have been held in Buffalo for decades. Organizers said the Pride Festival has been growing in popularity each year. In 2013, the event was expanded to encompass an entire week of events. A full roster of festivities can be found at buffalopridefestival.com.