Celebrating Three Decades of Pride and IVF on Long Island
What better way to kick off the long-awaited Long Island summer than with the spectacular three-day weekend known as Long Island Pridefest? Organized by our partner, The LGBT Network, this year marks the 28th anniversary of the event and the second year it will take place in beautiful Long Beach, New York. As a proud sponsor of Pridefest for many years, Long Island IVF is also celebrating an anniversary this summer: our 30th year.
As the first successful IVF program on Long Island, Long Island IVF brought Long Island its first IVF baby, its first baby from a cryopreserved embryo, and its first donor egg baby. For decades, Long Island IVF has built families for Long Island’s LGBT community.
Looking back on the history of both Pridefest and IVF technology on Long Island, much has changed over the past three decades. And those changes are overwhelmingly for the better. When the first IVF baby was born in England in 1978, the world collectively gasped at the idea of creating life outside of the womb in a “test tube”. When America’s first IVF baby was born shortly thereafter in 1981 through the ground-breaking work of Dr. Howard Jones of the Jones Institute in Virginia, the “sci-fi” label still hadn’t worn off the public’s mind.
In 1985, a young doctor accepted a fellowship position at the prestigious Jones Institute in the newly-emerging field of Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility and IVF. In 1988, that young doctor – Dr. David Kreiner – co-founded Long Island IVF with Dr. Daniel Kenigsberg. Dr. Kenigsberg– who had trained at the prestigious National Institutes of Health and whose nationally-recognized, award-winning research at the time led the way to modern-day IVF stimulation protocol– left his position as Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at University Hospital at Stony Brook Medical School to partner with Dr. Kreiner. Together they pioneered IVF right here on Long Island. The two doctors, along with other doctors, nurses, and staff are still together today building families on Long Island for both the heterosexual and LGBT communities.
Pridefest has also grown over its 28-year history. And while this year’s theme is “Brave. Strong. United.”, it’s really the embodiment of those same three attributes in past Pridefest participants that has brought the event to the size, scope and impact it enjoys today. How many people have “come out” in those years? How does the community support members of all ages – from teens to the elderly through workshops, education, counseling, and programs? How have advocacy efforts over the decades resulted in gains in civil rights, marriage rights, and reproductive rights just to name a few advances? How many community members can now—in addition or as an alternative to adoption– have biologically-linked children due to rapid advancements in assisted reproductive technology?
The many fights for rights over the decades by the pioneers of the gay rights movement have resulted in greater visibility of, gradual de-sensitization to, and increased acceptance of the LGBT lifestyle. Not from all, but from many. From baby steps to big steps, the LGBT community’s “in-your-face” relentless pursuit of equality and acceptance has made a difference. But facing down potential threats to these gains requires continued vigilance and advocacy—as well as joyful noise. So, while she may have started it, today’s Pridefest is not your grandma’s Pridefest.