Story and photos by Carol Montana
Held on the grounds of The Dancing Cat Saloon and the Catskill Distillery in Bethel, the festival ran from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 14, and included plenty of camaraderie, entertainment, crafts, specialty food, and even a dog beauty contest.
The Day to Be Gay was organized by GALA, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of the Catskills, which covers Sullivan, Orange, Ulster Counties in New York, and Wayne and Pike Counties in Pennsylvania. James Lomax explained that GALA is a non-profit organization that raises money for other non-profit groups such as food banks and local arts programs, in addition to giving grants to schools for anti-bullying programs, diversity training and in support of gay-straight alliance initiatives in the schools.
But even more than celebrating gay pride, Lomax said it’s “important to have fun. This is gay friendly, but also family friendly, we have everybody, even dogs, which is part of the tradition of this festival.”
The original Day to Be Gay festival happened in 1991 in Callicoon, NY, but has been on hiatus for the past few years.
With five new people on the board of the Day to Be Gay Foundation (an offshoot of GALA), the festival has been reignited. “The purpose of this festival is as a community gathering. Things like this are very important for improving the quality of our lives. This is what makes the community,” said Lomax.
Robert Byron-Lockwood, president of the Sullivan County Visitors Association said “We are blessed with an abundance of second homeowners and business men and women who are gay and lesbian. GALA has been a wonderful foundation. … Wonderful event, wonderful music, great friends, great people, great vendors, it’s just perfect. I love living here. We are the most wonderful welcoming community and county in the entire state.”
Here are some photos from the festival. Additional photos can be seen and purchased at this link: http://chronicle.zenfolio.com/p635866573.