It’s the perfect place to celebrate one of the first true victories of the LGBTQ community before the acronym even existed. Fifty years have passed since the monumental riots at the Stonewall Inn located in Greenwich Village in New York City. It’s one of the reasons June sits as Pride month for communities across the country and the world. How did June 28, 1969, change the way LGBTQ rights are recognized? While those riots didn’t accomplish much in that one night, they did put equal rights on the map as drag queens like Marsha P. Johnson took matters into their own hands and stood up to police at a time when homosexuality was essentially illegal. What took place after the riots though, still stands strong today as hundreds of cities around the world take to the streets to celebrate their own pride in a unique way: through a parade.
As years have passed and those who experienced the eventful night have passed away, the memories of Stonewall fade into history, but in 2019, on its 50th anniversary, the Big Apple will once again be the center of Stonewall as millions converge in the city to pay their respects to those who paved the way for a more fruitful future for the LGBTQ community and march as those did decades ago to make their queer voices heard.
Two Marches 50 Years Apart
The first March was held in 1970, one year after the Stonewall Riots. Five months after the riots, activists Craig Rodwell, his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Brody, and Linda Rhodes proposed a resolution at the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO) in Philadelphia that a march be held in New York City to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the raid, according to History.com. Their proposal was for an annual march on the last Saturday in June with “no dress or age regulations.” This was a drastic change from the current methods used by LGBT activists who would host walks and vigils in silence with a required dress code: men in jackets and ties and women in dresses.
The march was 51 blocks long from west of Sixth Avenue at Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, all the way to Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park, where activists then held a “Gay-in.” These protesters took key techniques from the Civil Rights Movement to stand up to injustice towards gay men and lesbian women.
Unlike today’s parades, there were no floats, no music, no overly or underly dressed men and women, and essentially no “allies” showing their support for the community. This was a political statement and a test according to organizers, to make the LGBTQ community more visible. Crowd estimates varied from 1,000 to 20,000, but for protesters marching, the numbers didn’t matter, as long as their voices were heard.
On that same day, organizers in Los Angeles and San Francisco held their own march to mark the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Two years later, San Francisco held its first Pride parade also known as the Christopher Street West Parade.
Over the years, pride parades have popped up across the country and around the world, and the purpose has broadened. In the ’80s and ’90s, a large portion of these parades focused on the fight against AIDS and remembering those who lost their lives to the disease. The evolution of the parade has become a community spectacle with allies of the LGBTQ community joining in to show support for continuing equality.
According to World Price NYC, the March is a celebration of our lives and our community. In 2018, New York was joined by over 550 unique marching contingents, representing a vast array of non-profits, community organizations, corporate sponsors, small businesses, political candidates and activists! With over 100 floats making the trek along the route, last year’s March was one of the largest and most exciting in history. This year, this significance of the march and parade will honor the trailblazers that put their lives on the line to stand up for inequality and injustice.
The 2019 LGBTQIA+ NYC Pride March Grand Marshals
POSE is a dance musical, set in the 1980s, that explores the juxtaposition of life and society in New York: the ball culture world, the rise of the Trump era, and the downtown social and literary scene. Cast members Dominique Jackson (Elektra), Indya Moore (Angel), and MJ Rodriguez (Blanca) will represent the show.
Phyll Opoku-Gyimah is the nucleus of the award-winning celebration and protest that is UK Black Pride.
Gay Liberation Front was the very first LGBTQ activist organization formed after the Stonewall Rebellion.
The Trevor Project is the leading and only accredited national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people.
Monica Helms is a transgender activist, author, and veteran of the United States Navy, having served on two submarines. She is also the creator of the Transgender Pride Flag, in 1999, and subsequently donated the original flag to the Smithsonian Institution in 2014.
NYC Pride 2019
We’ve got several must-go-to events out of hundreds planned if you plan on venturing up to New York City for World Pride 2019! From the opening to closing ceremonies, there’s no shortage of fun, education, and empowerment for all ages.
OutCimema: June 17-19
OutCinema, in partnership with NewFest and the SVA Theatre, celebrates LGBTQ pride and community on film over three evenings. Special screenings, Q&A’s and open bar after-parties are all part of the three-day event that encompasses the diversity of voices and perspectives within the LGBTQ community.
Human Rights Conference:
NYC Pride’s Human Rights Conference held at the New York Law School will host activists, artists, educators, journalists, policymakers, students, and others engaged in LGBTQ human rights around the world. This two-day conference gives those from around the world an opportunity to connect on a more personal scale about human rights, ranging from performances to presentations, politics to policies, and activism to academics.
WorldPride Opening Ceremony: June 26, 2019
The Ceremony will be formatted as a benefit concert at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Prolific entertainer and internationally-recognized humanitarian, Whoopi Goldberg, will host the ceremony, featuring a growing medley of acclaimed speakers and performers. Cyndi Lauper, iconic performer for the community and New Yorkers alike, leads the initial release of the talent line-up. Chaka Khan will also perform at the Opening Ceremony.
50 Commemoration: June 28, 2019
This commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising is free to the public and will be sure to get your heart racing. Join community activists, organizers, politicians, and more for this unprecedented moment in our history, and take a stand, show up in force, and make your voice heard in this re-imagined rally experience.
PRIDE Fest: June 30, 2019
PrideFest is an annual LGBTQ street fair that combines exhibitors, entertainers, and activities for a day of fun and celebration in the name of equality. PrideFest attracts thousands of out-of-state visitors along with local residents, community leaders, and local business owners to showcase their support for the LGBTQ community. Television and fashion personality, E.J. Johnson, will host PrideFest the festival!
WorldPride Closing Ceremony: June 30, 2019
The final evening of this international celebration held in Times Square will provide a full slate of influential speakers and global musical talents who represent the cultural diversity, tenacity, and grace of the LGBTQ community. Grammy-Award winning singer-songwriter, Melissa Etheridge, will perform along with Deborah Cox and Jake Shears.
For more information on events and the WorldPride 2019 celebration, visit 2019-worldpride-stonewall50.nycpride.org.