LGBTQ Pride Celebration Image

White Plains, NY — On Monday, the Westchester County Board of Legislators commemorated LGBTQ+ Pride Month with a virtual ceremony paying tribute to two important voices for the LGBTQ+ community – writer Hugh Ryan and advocate Jeffrey Guard.

Board Chair Catherine Borgia (D-Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton, Ossining, Peekskill) started off the observance saying, “Westchester Pride’s mission this year was to provide a space for healing, connection, and celebration as we come out of a long and challenging pandemic. But Pride Month also comes at an uncertain time for the LGBTQ+ community, with the specter of the Supreme Court overturning hard-won rights such as the right to marry, to reproductive health, and to protection against discrimination.”

Nonetheless we have two wonderful honorees to recognize -- Hugh Ryan and Jeffrey Guard --who share a common goal: to use their love of writing to reveal and preserve the stories, histories and experiences of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Hartsdale, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington) presented the first proclamation to Irvington native, Hugh Ryan.

She said, “It is exciting to honor someone who has so uniquely created a context for what it means to be LGBTQ+ -- author, historian and curator, Hugh Ryan … A people needs to understand their history, where they are now, and where they are going in order to understand who they are. Hugh Ryan is a dynamic chronicler of the LGBTQ+ experience through his acclaimed literary and exhibition work. He has unearthed ‘fossils’ of information that validate and connect the LGBTQ+ community’s present with its past in the New York metropolitan area and even right here in Irvington.”

In a video message, Ryan expressed his gratitude for the recognition, saying, “Growing up in Irvington, I came of age surrounded by the rich and deep history of the Rivertowns. My excellent public education helped me create new scholarship around LGBTQ lives.”

“I thank the Board for bestowing this honor upon me, especially in this moment of upheaval and uncertainty when so much progress we have achieved seems threatened. To be embraced by the places we have called home, what more could any of us want?”

The Board declared June 14, 2022 “Hugh Ryan Day” in Westchester County.

You may also go to Vimeo to watch the full video.

Chair Catherine Borgia presented the second proclamation to Jeffrey Guard, Director of Marketing and Communications for The LOFT. She said, “In deciding who we should honor for Pride Month, I did not have to think twice. I knew that my Croton neighbor, Jeffrey Guard -- the heart and soul of The LOFT -- was the perfect choice. As Director of Communications and Marketing, Jeffrey plays a crucial role using The LOFT's media resources to connect the LGBTQ+ community with the vast array of programs and services they offer.”

“Jeffrey also works as a peer advocate for those living with HIV/AIDS where he shares his own experiences of living with HIV while working to shatter the stigma and empower others in the process. As founder and editor-in-chief of OUTSpoken, The LOFT's online community magazine, he is dedicated to promoting LGBTQ+ voices through essays, articles, and poetry.

“All of these accomplishments are admirable, but what is most admirable about Jeffrey is his enormous capacity to care for and connect with people – people he helps navigate through a world that is rife with obstacles and challenges.”

Mr. Guard accepted the honor with these words, “My purpose in life is to do whatever I can to empower the LGBTQ+ community. I am truly blessed to do that at The LOFT, the largest provider of programs and services for the LGBTQ+ community in Westchester County.”

“To live in a county as affirming as Westchester and to have allies like Chairwoman Borgia is something we in the community do not take for granted. You see, the place where I grew up was, and is, the exact opposite of Westchester. I know what it is to struggle to be treated with a basic level of decency, much less expect to be treated with equality.  With this honor, it sends a clear message to our community that Westchester County supports, empowers, and believes in the LGBTQ+ community without reservation.”

The Board declared June 15, 2022 “Jeffrey Guard Day” in Westchester County.

You may also go to Vimeo to watch the full video.

Read a program for Monday night’s event at: