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  • Poughkeepsie Journal

    Pride Night at Hudson Valley Renegades: 'Community, that's what it's about.'

    By Nickie Hayes, Poughkeepsie Journal,


    Recognizing and embracing Pride month was the theme at Heritage Financial Park Tuesday evening for the Renegades game against the Brooklyn Cyclones.

    LGBTQ+ flags were represented in the stands, and the team's website proclaimed a simple message, "Baseball is for everyone."

    Zach Betkowski, the team's general manager, said the Renegades are a community-minded organization, looking to create a positive impact and provide a space for all residents to enjoy the sport. It's essential, he said, for the Renegades to have nights like Pride Night each year.

    "We want people to look at this ballpark as a gathering space, and somewhere they can escape the real world and all the negativity — really enjoy themselves and enjoy the atmosphere," he said.

    Pride Night with the Renegades

    Renegades Pride shirts were distributed as part of T-Shirt Tuesday at the stadium. In between innings, the ballpark hosted Pride-themed games and outlined the journey of the gay rights movement.

    A specialty Rainbow Refresher cocktail, made with vodka, grenadine, orange juice, blue curacao, edible glitter and topped with a rainbow gummy was also featured.

    Pride Night, Betkowski said, acted as a bridge to those in the community who may not go to baseball games often, but could have a safe space to enjoy the game, and leave with a smile on their face.

    WMCHealth's Ally Care Center at Pride Night

    Westchester Medical Center's Ally Care Center had a table at the stadium Tuesday as well as their mobile health unit to highlight the services they offer. The multidisciplinary clinic provides access to comprehensive primary care, with emphasis on offering a safe and welcoming environment to all.

    "We help connect our patients to valuable community resources to try to address the social determinants of health and improve care all around," said Rebecca Glassman, director of the Ally Care Center.

    In addition to perusing educational materials, game attendees played a "Know Your STI Jeopardy" game at the table.

    Glassman said it was beautiful to see someone who is a part of the LGBTQ+ community coming to the game, with their families right by their side supporting them as allies.

    "We try to make sure that everybody knows that when they come into our care, it will be a safe place," she said. "Unfortunately, for the LGBTQ community, that's not always the truth."

    Sandra Tarpey, nurse practitioner at the Ally Care Center, said another one of their goals for the night was to form more relationships with the community.

    "I think it's amazing seeing different ages, younger and older, supporting the Pride community tonight," Tarpey said.

    More members of the community coming out to Pride Night

    Shannon Johns, founder of the Dutchess County Pride Center, which has recently moved to Main Street in Poughkeepsie, said it's imperative for people to live as their authentic self and to not be afraid to do so.

    "This community has a lot of LGBTQ+ people in it that we need to support," she said.

    Jeanne Mierzwa, a Poughkeepsie native, and Alexis P. Suter, who is originally from Brooklyn, but has lived in Poughkeepsie for five years, were happy to be at the stadium Tuesday night, taking some time to relax at Suter's first Renegades game.

    Suter said with everything that's going on in the world, coming to a place like this, where there's love and people of all backgrounds coming together to enjoy a baseball game and support their teams is how it should be all the time.

    "Community, that's what it's about... No matter how you identify, we're all human," Suter said.

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