Contact: Stephan Hengst

Community Organizers Promote Local Diversity With The Launch of New Online Portal; Big Gay Hudson Valley
Site Seeks to Connect LGBTQ Community with Local Events, Organizations, and Resources

March 9, 2009 – Highland, NY – has been introduced to help strengthen the region’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) community and connect visitors to the wide variety of gay-owned, gay-friendly, and gay-sensible businesses, events, resources, and happenings in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley. The site covers Dutchess, Ulster, Putnam, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Columbia, Greene and Sullivan counties.

Big Gay Hudson Valley focuses on local businesses and groups and encourages visitors to think local first whenever possible. Showcasing fresh, original items of interest to the LGBTQ community and its allies, the site will spotlight the efforts of local grassroots organizations that promote the diversity of the region.  In addition, Big Gay Hudson Valley will host its own events and happenings to bring the region’s myriad organizations together.

Patrick Decker and Stephan Hengst, residents of Highland, created Big Gay Hudson Valley. Both transplanted to the area to attend college at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and, after working and residing in the area for a number of years following their graduation, started the site out of their own frustrations when seeking current news about LGBTQ happenings.

“Since having lost publications such as In The Life newspaper many years ago, and the relocation of Inside Out Hudson Valley magazine which has led to limited distribution, it has become increasingly difficult for the LGBTQ community to connect to the goods and services that are of interest to us in the local business and arts scenes, “ explains Hengst. “At Big Gay Hudson Valley we believe that a community is only as strong as the sum of its parts – and we’re optimistic that this new site will bring all of those parts together.”

Decker and Hengst have organized the site based on their own everyday lives.  “We’re so lucky to have such a mixed network of friends who are part-time and full-time residents and show us the bounty of the area from both perspectives,” gushes Hengst.  “It made perfect sense for us to structure our content around local shopping, eating & drinking, lodging, and cultural & recreational events.  At the heart of it, we’re drawn to the people that support our community and make all of this happen, so putting them into the spotlight will absolutely be a prominent feature of the site.” 

“In brainstorming the structure of the site, we took a lot of inspiration from the iconic gay neighborhood zines,” cites Decker.  “For years these publications have connected the local community to their pulse through a medium that reaches them where they live their everyday lives.  We’re conveying this content over a modern medium in a locally-relatable way so that the both the “weekenders” and the “full-timers” can stay on top of current happenings and take advantage of the events happening in their own backyard.” 

Seeking Submissions
Big Gay Hudson Valley warmly welcomes submissions from publishers, manufacturers, and other business that offer goods or services of interest to the LGBTQ community and its friends and supporters.  Content for consideration can be submitted online at

“We plan to operate like we live our own lives,” explains Decker.  “We live small town lives full of Big Gay fun.  You just have to know where to look for what you want – and it’s our goal to make that easier than ever before.”

For more information, please visit