PRIDE is Busting Out All Over Chelsea: Previewing June Celebrations of LGBTQ+ Identity

BY SCOTT STIFFLER | Have we ever had more reason to be proud of Chelsea during June’s PRIDE Month? Well, that’s up for debate (says anyone here during the Big Cup era). But cautious of the forgiving patina that comes with a thick coat of nostalgia, we’ll punt on any further debate about the “good old days” and say that the best is yet to come. Hey, this lavender-hued member of the LGBTQ+ community just made a football reference in that last sentencce, so anything can happen! And so, we look ahead to some of the promising Chelsea-based activities that PRIDE Month has to offer. They are, in this order:

Pride the Block / Chelsea Community Church PRIDE-Themed June Sunday Services / Debut of the Play Seventh Avenue South / Paws for Pride: Celebrate Pride With Your Pup / Midnight Coleslaw’s Tales From Beyond The Closet

Pride the Block: Saturday, June  1, from 1pm-5pm on the 400 Block of West 21st Street | The big thinkers–and doers–of Chelsea’s 400 West 21st Street block mean to begin June’s PRIDE Month by going themselves one better than the stellar spooky outdoor displays they’ve become known for, come Halloween. For PRIDE, they’ve put out a  call to all on their block to drape the stretch between 9th & 10th Aves. with Pride decor complimented by complimentary PRIDE-themed bunting. See the below flyer for details–and stop by on June 1 to cheer them on, and return all month long for what’s sure to be the site of many social media triumphs.

Chelsea Community Church PRIDE-Themed 1pm June Sunday Services at St. Peter’s Chelsea (346 W. 20th St. btw. 8th & 9th Aves.) | For a half-century, the non-denominational Christian Chelsea Community Church (CCC) has, they note, welcomed “people of all faiths and those who are uncertain about their faith” by providing a safe and inclusive space. That space—physical and spiritual—devotes its weekly 1pm Sunday services in June to the theme of “Pride,” in its many colors-of-the-rainbow variations. The celebratory month begins June 2, with guest speaker Revd Linda Tarry-Chard (United Church of Christ). On June 9, Revd Joseph Nicholson (Non-denominational Protestant) speaks on the topic Does Pride Goeth Before a Fall?

June 16: CCC’s Jerry Scott is memorialized in–what else–song. | Photo courtesy CCC

The June 16 service, led by congregation member Scott Barbarino, is a loving tribute to the late CCC member Jerry Scott. “Jerry was an extraordinary Manhattan entertainer and consummate musician whose stellar renditions over a span of 40 years encompassed every genre of music from show tunes to standards; from pop to operetta to ragtime,” recalls Barbarino, who notes the honors amassed by Scott include “MAC and BISTRO awards for Best Piano-Bar Performer and the Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Piano-Bar Performance.” Fittingly titled A Celebration of Jerry Scott, the service features music by Michael Beau, Pam Palmieri, Colm Reilly, Steve Ross, and Marcus Simeone, with special speaker Tree Sequoia.

On June 23, Revd John Magisano (Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches) will be the speaker at The Blessing of Drag Artists, a service celebrating the contributions and resilience of drag artists within the LGBTQ+ community. “Drag artists have been pivotal in the fight for equality, from the Stonewall riots to the AIDS crisis, and today, they remain a vibrant and integral part of the LGBTQ+ community,” noted CCC in its preview material, adding, “This special service is an opportunity to show appreciation and solidarity with a community that has long supported others.” Showing their love will be a community choir, vocalists Nina Blue and Cameron Mitchell Bell, special speaker Ruby Rims, and a special blessing by Revd Joe (DollFace) Nicholson focusing on themes of love, acceptance, and unity.

Nondenominational Revd Diane Trinkaus and vocalist Jeanne MacDonald, pictured, helm the June 30 proceedings. Phoo courtesy CCC

The series concludes on June 30 with the nondenominational Revd Diane Trinkaus and vocalist Jeanne MacDonald. Then, from 2:30pm-6:30pm, all are invited to stop by, as the church is adorned with “images from the AIDS Memorial Quilt and other important parts of LGBTQ+ history.”

All services take place at 1pm, at St. Peter’s Chelsea (346 W. 20th St. btw. 8th & 9th Aves.). To visit the Chelsea Community Church website, click here. To send an email, click here. To leave a voicemail, call 212-886-5463.

The cast of “Seventh Avenue South.” Top Row, L to R: Ali Lebow, Tony Dempsey. Bottom Row, L to R: David Allard, Amy Losi, and Caleb Moreno. | Photo by Sean Prasso

Seventh Avenue South: A New One-Act Play Performed June 3, 7, & 9 at Hudson Guild Theater (441 W 26th St.) | Chelsea-based playwright David Allard’s new one-act claims the first part of PRIDE Month with a June 3-9 run as part of the New York Theater Festival. That’s the same platform that launched his 2022 play, Pañuelos. Set in 1977, it viewed Argentina’s “Dirty War”—in which 30,000 Argentinians would be tortured or killed—through a queer lens, with mother/son conflict to boot.

Allard’s new work, Seventh Avenue South, unfurls during the decisive year of 1969, just  before Stonewall would go from merely the name of a Greenwich Village bar to a one-word go-to for gay rights, gay riots, and decisive shifts in everything from HR policy to niche marketing to pop culture visibility. But like the characters in Pañuelos, the five efficient archetypes of Seventh Avenue South aren’t calibrating their behavior and beliefs with the hindsight of history enjoyed by the audience. They’re just reacting to events as best they can, given who they are—or perhaps more accurately, who they want to be.

And so we find, before Stonewall’s fateful call to action (or entropy), the springtime move-in of a gay couple to their new Greenwich Village digs. WASP-ish lawyer Samuel is resigned to reside in the closet when doing otherwise threatens the security of his dream job or that nice, new apartment. His partner, actor Carlos, thinks otherwise, not afraid to drop coded gay bombs when nosy landlady Mrs. Beasley announces her intention to play hetero matchmaker for the new “close as brothers” tenants. Fashion mag worker Maggie, who calls them as she sees them, sees right through the subterfuge and couldn’t care less—while closeted cop Charles, best friend to the conflicted couple, is about to have his own moment of reckoning.

When the riots subside and the metaphorical dust settles, not everybody can claim a place on the right side of the seismic shift that was Stonewall. While there’s plenty to be proud of during PRIDE Month, Allard reminds us that a history book written by the winners falls short of telling decidedly less heroic tales that still have much to teach us, and to say.

Sean Prasso directs the cast of five: David Allard, Tony Dempsey, Alexandra Lebow, Amy Losi, and Caleb Moreno. “Seventh Avenue South” is performed on Mon. June 3 at 6:15pm; Fri. June 7 at 9pm & Sun. June 9 at 3:30pm. At Hudson Guild Theater (441 W. 26th St. btw. 9th/10th Aves.). To purchase tickets, click here.

Paws for Pride: Celebrate Pride with Your Pup, in Chelsea / Saturday, June 8, 2pm at Verdi Cannabis (158 W. 23rd St. btw. 6th & 7th Aves.) | Chelsea’s first–and currently, only–legal cannabis dispensary, Verdi Cannabis, is the host venue for this dog fashion show that promises to be every bit as compelling and adorable as the phrase, “dog fashion show.” See the below flyer for details.

Promotional image courtesy of the production.

Midnight Coleslaw’s Tales from Beyond The Closet: May 31—June 23 at The Tank (312 W. 36th St. btw. 8th & 9th Aves.) | “A campy and titillating evening of queer horror-comedy” is the promise of this something-sexy-this-way-comes collection of one-acts by Joey Merlo. The theater maker and educator—a former artist-in-residence at NYC’s Abingdon Theater Company—here plays mankind’s penchant for evil deeds for laughs while likely anchoring the proceedings with weighty echoes of the horrors he’s see first-hand, in the real world. (“In collaboration with Ghanian activists and students,” notes the production’s press release, “he filmed a documentary on the illegality of homosexuality called Voices.) Rest assured, though, these Tales from Beyond The Closet, be they dark in deed, maintain their lightness in tone thanks in no small part to the evening’s host, drag-vamp Midnight Coleslaw. With able assistance from her talking-skull-sidekick, Boner, Midnight Coleslaw proves herself a ballsy, busty successor to the standards set by the likes of Rod Serling, Elvira, and Cryptkeeper. Guided by her Satan-level-sexy segues, audiences will, the production assures us, “marvel at a chair made out of skin that turns into a humanoid third-wheel in a couple’s relationship, a father back from the dead to make sure his little (unbeknownst to him lesbian) girl is thriving, and an aging queen’s party of disappearing guests.”

This co-production with The Tank is directed by Nick Browne and stars Priscilla Flores, Curtis Gillen, Amando Houser, Jan Leslie Harding, Edgar Oliver, Haley Joel Osment, Rebecca Robertson, John William Watkins, and—as the “titular” Midnight Coleslaw, Charlene Incarnate (OUT100’s 2019 Showgirl of the Year). Sixteen performances, May 31-June 23; Thursdays–Sundays at 7pm with the following exceptions: June 10 at 7pm, June 7 and 21 at 10:30pm, and June 9, 16, and 22 at 3pm. Runtime: 85 minutes, no intermission. At The Tank (312 W. 36th St. btw. 8th & 9th Aves.). Tickets are now on sale at www.thetanknyc.orgGeneral admission tickets are $50 with Donor tickets at $75. A limited number of “Under 40” tickets are available at $25 for every performance to audience members aged 40 and under (ID required). For more info about playwright Joey Merlo, visit


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