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World Pride in New York: 50 Years of Gay Pride and Two Separate Parades

The New York Gay Pride and WorldPride of June 30, 2019 was the culmination of the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots on June 28, 1969. Nearly 3 million spectators flanked the parade of around 150,000 people, from the most remote parts of the city to downtown Manhattan via 5th Avenue (official estimate before the parade). Tens of thousands of other people took part on the same day in a kind of “counter-event” closer to the original protest movement and a thousand miles away from the overdrawn commercialized big event.

The main parade, the official Gay Pride Parade, was called the Heritage of Pride Parade. An “LGBT Legacy” and a parade with 167 floats and sponsored by 70 partner companies, following an official itinerary and a clearly defined route, with a police-supervised parade, meticulously calibrated VIP performances and a detailed schedule, including a closing concert with Madonna. However, Lady Gaga’s unexpected appearance on the sidelines of the parade was a surprise.

Here is the official trailer of the Gay Pride and World Pride 2019 in New York:

No brand names or sponsorship, no commercial references in the above video. Unfortunately, in the official clip you see almost only young people, and the socio-political character disappears almost completely behind the big party. In other words, the official clip doesn't show the heroes of Stonewall 1969, but young people who could take part in the current New York fashion shows. Hence the idea – and relevance – of another parade closer to the historical values and roots of the socio-political LGBT demands.

The other parade (Queer Liberation March) was planned by an initiative called Reclaim Pride as a counter-organization: no official sponsors, no floats, no policemen (the police service was provided by volunteers). This parade of dissidents was much closer to the original Gay Prides because it started from the Stonewall Inn Bar (or at least what is left of it) in Greenwich Village and then went up to Central Park.

In its spirit and in its less ostentatious presentation, this parade was rather comparable with the Lesbian Parade (on the eve of the big Pride Parade) and with the Trans-People Parade, which have meanwhile established themselves as further attributes of the New York Gay Pride.

The “historical parade” wanted to return more strongly to the foundations of the LGBT demands and thereby denounce aberrations. One of these aberrations is the pink-washing by many companies that sponsor LGBT initiatives with a lot of PR effect, but at the same time support financial associations and political personalities known as homophobic. The other major aberration concerns the very reactionary threat to LGBT rights by Donald Trump and his government, in particular through the appointment of evangelical judges. The social progress achieved after decades of struggle (especially same-sex marriages) could be eliminated by the Federal Supreme Court.

In 2019, the official and alternative parades focused in particular on the very difficult situation of transgender persons. The case of “transgender bathrooms” and President Trump’s measures against the army’s recruitment of transgender personnel are only the most visible developments in an increasingly intolerant and discriminatory institutional environment.

The two parades took place one after the other, allowing the participants of the alternative parade to join the official and commercialized parade.

However, last weekend’s celebrations did not relate to the first American LGBT uprisings (in Los Angeles, ten years before New York), nor to the 50th anniversary of the Gay Pride (the first took place in 1970). Read more about this in one of the upcoming blog articles this month.

Frank-S / MensGo

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