By Tony Aiello

RYE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There were cheers, confetti and a blast of bubbles Friday as Westchester County unveiled a mural and, for the first time, raised Progress Pride flags at Playland Park in Rye.

The event for Pride Month sent a message with deep meaning for one group from northern Westchester, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.

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“We’ve become real. We’ve become accepted. We’ve become honest. We’ve become out in the community, which is very important,” said Brian Fassett of Peekskill Pride.

Mary Beth McGowan and wife Leslie Mason point to Peekskill, where a growing LGBTQ community is having a big impact on the rebirth of downtown.

“I think each and every year the community gets stronger and more comfortable in being who they are, in their skin, out in Westchester and other places,” McGowan said.

“The struggle continues, but less than it was I would say 30 years ago,” said Wilfredo Morel.

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County executive George Latimer said Playland was chosen for its visibility.

“The people of the LGBT community are part of the American ‘we,'” he said.

Ariana Quinones works with LGBTQ youngsters and hopes these symbols – at a park that’s popular with families – are reassuring.

“If you have kids, if you have children, if you have nieces, nephews, grandkids, it’s not loving them despite, it’s loving them because,” Quinones said. “It’s not acceptance and understanding. They don’t need you to accept them. They need you to love them.”

You could feel the love and support at Playland – on the ground and in the air.

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CBS2 asked the Westchester County Human Rights Commission about complaints relating to LGBTQ discrimination. It says since 2019, 18 people have inquired about the process for registering a complaint but could not say how many followed up and actually filed.

Tony Aiello