In wake of Clayton flag flap, Cape Vincent welcomes River Pride, model Maggie Rizer speaks out

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 5:30 PM EDT
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CLAYTON, New York (WWNY) - Amid controversy over Clayton’s new flag policy, another river community offers an open invitation to the organizers of River Pride. Meanwhile, Maggie Rizer, this past summer’s guest speaker at River Pride, worries Clayton’s decision will resonate beyond the north country.

In June, the gay pride flag flew high in Clayton in front of hundreds of people at Frink Park for the inaugural River Pride celebration.

But, a couple months later, the village board changed the policy - only allowing American flags and those of other nations to fly on village flagpoles.

Village leaders say they changed the policy to not show favoritism or say no to another group.

But that decision may lead to the event moving elsewhere.

Cape Vincent Mayor Jerry Golden sent this invitation:

“After talking with my board, we agree that if the organizers of River Pride feel they would like to host its 2022 event in another river community, Cape Vincent would welcome them. We aren’t looking to lure the event away from Clayton, just giving organizers another option if they need it.”

Vogue model and activist Maggie Rizer spoke at this year’s pride event. Her late father lived openly gay in the north country

She says that Clayton’s new policy is concerning

“We are all working hard to make progress and make people feel more inclusive and this is going in the opposite way and this summer we made a big step and now it’s just going backwards,” she said.

Following the decision, Rizer says she may think twice about recommending people to visit an area that she loves.

“If it was some friends of mine from New York, maybe a gay couple or a lesbian couple, and they said, ‘How will we do, will it be okay? Will we feel comfortable?’ Today I would have to say no,” she said.

Clayton Mayor Norma Simmer says the village is happy to host River Pride again next year and the village is supportive of LGBTQ people.

A decision hasn’t been made on moving locations, but River Pride organizers told 7 News that, ”While the River Pride committee has not directly spoken with the Cape Vincent Village Board yet, we are grateful for the chance to have dialogue and greatly appreciate their support during this uncertain time. We look forward to conversations about how to make 2022′s event on the river represent the best of our river communities.”

Organizers say they have time until next June’s event and that’s a good thing because they admit they have a lot to think about.

But, one thing they’re sure of: River Pride 2022 will happen and it will be bigger than this year’s event whether it’s in Clayton or not.

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