Veteran of Stonewall riots to keynote Pride Day at the 2019 State Fair

Martin Boyce, a participant in the Stonewall Riots that marked a turning point in the fight for equal rights for gay and lesbian people, will be the featured speaker at the annual Pride Day ceremony Friday, Aug. 23 at the 2019 Great New York State Fair. Boyce will speak about his experience at the 5 p.m. ceremony in the Empire Theater at the Art & Home Center. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the riots.

“As the first state fair in the nation to host an official Pride Day, I am proud to be able to bring the story of the Stonewall Inn to the Fair,” said Troy Waffner, Fair Director. “The history of our nation is a history of fighting against oppression and discrimination. Stonewall is an important milestone in the fight for equality for the LGBTQ community and is a major part of our celebration of pride for LGBTQ New Yorkers.”

The Fair’s official Pride Day grew out of discussions with LGBTQ groups about making official the celebration that had been taking place at the Fairgrounds for several years. Pride Day features the raising of the Rainbow Flag over the Fairgrounds in the morning and performances in the Empire Theater starting at noon from gay and lesbian choruses and Cortland musician Colleen Kattau. After the ceremony, LGBTQ people are invited to march in the parade across the Fairgrounds and attend a performance by drag performer and singer Mrs. Kasha Davis in the Empire Theater at 7:30 p.m. Davis, of Rochester, appeared on season seven of RuPaul’s Drag Race and offers an inspirational message about acceptance, forgiveness and love of oneself.

The Fair will also host in the Exposition Center the informational exhibit “Equality Will Never Be Silent,” which celebrates the New York State LGBTQ community and recognizes the meaningful political, cultural and artistic impacts of 16 LGBTQ New Yorkers. The exhibit, which was created for Pride Month, is on display now through the summer in the Governor’s Reception Room on the second floor of the New York State Capitol. The exhibit features an interpretive panel chronicling the 1969 Stonewall uprising and a panel dedicated to the history of the Pride flag. It also honors the memories of three New Yorkers whose bias-motivated murders drove change and resulted in stronger protections for LGBTQ individuals.

The Fair supports Pride events across the state, recently appearing at the Pride-B-Que at Syracuse’s Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and planning to support the first-ever Pride Day at the Rochester Red Wings minor league baseball game. The Fair’s iconic logo sports rainbow colors for Pride Day.

New York State has been a national leader in the fight for LGBTQ rights. The historic Marriage Equality Act of 2011 ended one of society’s greatest inequities. In 2015, Governor Cuomo expended the state’s Human Rights Law to transgender people and, last year, the Governor nominated the first openly gay person to serve on the state’s highest court. This year, the Governor signed into law the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and a law banning conversion therapy. GENDA prevents discrimination of LGBTQ people by employers, schools and universities, landlords, creditors and others based on gender identity or expression.

Founded in 1841, the Great New York State Fair is America’s third largest state fair. The Fair showcases the best of New York agriculture, provides top-quality entertainment and is a key piece of Governor Cuomo’s CNY Rising strategy of growing the Central New York economy through tourism. Fair attendance is up more than 40% since the beginning of more than $120 million in investments, with 1.27 million people attending the Fair in 2018. The 2019 Fair runs from Aug. 21 to Sept. 2. Information about the Fair can be found here.

The New York State Fairgrounds is a 375-acre exhibit and entertainment complex that operates all year. A year-round schedule of events is available here. Find the Great New York State Fair on Facebook, follow @NYSFair on Twitter, on Snapchat at nysfair and enjoy photos from the Fair on Flickr. Also, New Yorkers are invited to send their ideas for the Great New York State Fair at

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