MELROSE, Bronx (WABC) -- Pride Week kicked off Tuesday night in the Bronx, as members of the LGBTQ community gathered together for food and films, but it comes at a time when many don't feel safe.
It was movie night in the Melrose section of the Bronx. The event was hosted at Destination Tomorrow, a non-profit and safe space for the LGBTQ+ community.
"We're celebrating Bronx Pride week," said Sage Rivera, director of Destination Tomorrow. "Starting today with a host of films by LGBTQ filmmakers."
As for the rest of the week in the Bronx, there will be awards, a barbeque, and a large festival on Saturday.
"While we celebrate all our accomplishments, we have to continue to shine a light on all the things we have to do for our community," said Sean Ebony Coleman, founder and executive director of Destination Tomorrow.
Pride Month is not just parades and fun for this community. Many of the events are focused on education and services. The sad reality is many here do not feel safe.
In March, police reported that a man spat on and attacked a 22-year-old man while yelling anti-gay slurs at the victim.
Statistics show 97 hates crimes were reported against the LGBTQ community last year compared with 66 in 2019, the year before the pandemic. That's a 46% increase.
"It's sad to see there's so much hate in the world. At the same time, we have somebody being targeted because of who they are," said NYPD Sgt. Ana Arboleda, who is also an LGBTQ liasion.
As Pride Month continues with the colorful parade in the Village at the end of June, the mission in the Bronx is multi-faceted: to help, teach and embrace.
"We exist. We've always existed. We will continue to exist in the future," Rivera said.
Check out the Pride Week schedule of events below:
-- June 15 - the Bronx Borough President Annual Pride from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., at Rosa's At Park Restaurant
-- June 16 - the Bronx LGBT Expo from 12 p.m. - 7 p.m. with a tribute to Jose Ramon, founder and creator of The Bronx LGBTQ Expo and The White Shirt Project from 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. at the Bronx Museum of the Arts
-- June 17 - a pre-Juneteenth, inter-generational cookout at 2:00 p.m. in Crotona Park (located at N and Prospect Ave)
-- June 18 - the Bronx Pride Week Festival from 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. at Westchester Ave. between Brook Ave. and Bergen Ave.
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