June 30, 2019 10:14 am
Updated: June 30, 2019 7:33 pm

Huge pride march in NYC concludes month of Stonewall commemorations

WATCH ABOVE: A Pride march in New York City on Sunday concluded a month of Stonewall commemorations, and coincided with WorldPride.

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Exuberant crowds carrying rainbow colors filled New York City streets Sunday for one of the largest pride parades in the history of the gay-rights movement, a dazzling celebration of the 50th anniversary of the infamous police raid on the Stonewall Inn.

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Marchers and onlookers took over much of midtown Manhattan with a procession that lasted hours and paid tribute to the uprising that began at the tavern when patrons resisted officers on June 28, 1969. The parade in New York and others like it across the nation concluded a month of events marking the anniversary.

 

READ MORE: Thousands mark 50 years after Stonewall LGBTQ2 rebellion in New York

Eraina Clay, 63, of suburban New Rochelle, came to celebrate a half-century of fighting for equality.

 

Alyssa Christianson, 29, of New York City, was topless, wearing just sparkly pasties and boy shorts underwear. A Pride flag was tied around her neck like a cape.

“I’ve been to the Pride parade before, but this is the first year I kind of wanted to dress up and get into it,” she said.

Christianson said she was concerned that the movement could suffer setbacks during the Trump administration, which has moved to revoke newly won health care protections for transgender people, restrict their presence in the military and withdraw federal guidance that trans students should be able to use bathrooms of their choice.

WATCH: Lady Gaga tells crowd at Stonewall ‘I would take a bullet for you’

“I’m definitely a little scared of how things are going, just the anger and violence that comes out of it and just the tone of conversation about it. We’ve come so far, especially in the last few decades, that I don’t want to see that repressed in any way.”

In May, Trump tweeted about Pride Month and praised the “outstanding contributions” of LGBTQ2 people. But his administration has also aligned with some religious conservatives in arguing that nondiscrimination protections for those same people can infringe on the religious beliefs of others who oppose same-sex marriage and transgender rights.

Earlier in the day, a crowd of about 2,000 people gathered outside the Stonewall Inn. At the Queer Liberation March near the bar, some participants said the larger Pride parade had become too commercialized and heavily policed.

READ MORE: Apology for Stonewall Inn raid in 1969 delivered by New York City police

“What’s important to remember is that this is a protest against the monetization of the Pride parade, against the police brutality of our community, against the poor treatment of sections of our community, of black and brown folk, of immigrants,” said Jake Seller, a 24-year-old Indiana native who now lives in Brooklyn and worked as one of the march’s volunteers.

Protesters carried anti-Trump and queer liberation signs, chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!”

“We march for the liberation of our community so they can live and celebrate their identity. So they can reclaim it. This will always remain a protest, not an advertisement,” Seller said.

WATCH: Pride month: Honouring the LGBTQ2 community’s progress and recognizing the work still to be done

Other attendees focused on the progress that’s been made within the LGBTQ2 community over the last few decades.

“We’ve come so far in the past 20 years,” said 55-year-old Gary Piper, who came from Kansas to celebrate Pride with his partner. “I remember friends who would be snatched off the streets in Texas for dressing in drag. They’d have to worry about being persecuted for their identity.”

“But now we’re so much more accepted. I’m not saying we don’t have ways to go, but let’s celebrate how far we’ve come,” he said.

READ MORE: Pride month: Honouring the LGBTQ2 community’s progress and recognizing the work still to be done

The police presence at the march was heavy, with several officers posted at every corner. Metal barricades were erected along the entire parade route.

In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker chose the parade day to sign an executive order creating a task force to study the rights of transgender students. The task force will look at what schools are doing to promote LGBTQ2 rights to make sure students have “welcoming” and “inclusive” environments.

In Chicago’s parade, the city’s first openly gay mayor, Lori Lightfoot, was one of seven grand marshals. Lightfoot, who took office in May, walked alongside her wife and wore a “Chicago Proud” T-shirt with rainbow lettering. The couple held hands at times, drawing cheers from onlookers. The procession was cut short as thunderstorms rolled through the area, forcing police to cancel the event about three hours after it began.

WATCH: Police and protesters clash after Istanbul’s Pride march banned

The larger New York Pride parade had 677 contingents, including community groups, major corporations and cast members from FX’s Pose. Organizers expected at least 150,000 people to march, with hundreds of thousands more lining the streets to watch.

Other Stonewall commemorations in New York included rallies, parties, film showings and a human rights conference. The celebration coincides with WorldPride, an international LGBTQ2 event that started in Rome in 2000 and was held in New York this past week.

In San Francisco, a contingent of Google employees petitioned the Pride parade’s board of directors to revoke Google’s sponsorship over what they called harassment and hate speech directed at LGBTQ2 people on YouTube and other Google platforms.

READ MORE: Police use tear gas to break up Istanbul pride march

San Francisco Pride declined to revoke the sponsorship or remove the company from the parade, but Pride officials said the Google critics could protest the company’s policies as part of the parade’s “resistance contingent.”

Larraine and Peter Browne, who were visiting from Australia, told the San Francisco Chronicle they had never seen anything like the parade’s rainbow-colored display.

“Look at the costumes!” 80-year-old Peter Browne said.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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