Pride in New York imbued with a new sense of urgency


The festivities kicked off on Sunday with a familiar feel: revelers adorned in a bright color palette, waving rainbow flags and handmade signs, tossing confetti into the air as the roar of shouts and bikers revving their motorcycle engines signaled the start of the annual New York City Pride Parade in Manhattan.

But there was no doubt that this year’s event, for all its joyous celebrations, had taken on a sudden urgency and heightened significance just two days after the US Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion. and signaled that the court could reconsider other freedoms, including the 2015 ruling allowing same-sex marriage.

Those thoughts were on the minds of three New York high school friends who arrived two hours before the parade started on Sunday to get a view at the starting point near the Flatiron Building in Manhattan.

“Because of everything that’s happened recently, I’m glad we have the chance to be with people we know who support us,” said Ivey Espinosa, 17, who identifies as non-binary. and attended Fort Hamilton High School in Bay Ridge. , Brooklyn. “There is more importance, more urgency.”

Moments later, Planned Parenthood – who event organizers decided to put in charge of the event after the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade – led the way as the first Pride groups marched down Fifth Avenue. A joyful and diverse scene of people of all ages from across the country packed the sidewalks, gathered to build fire escapes and climbed scaffolding to watch the parade.

Amid chants of “Stand up for Abortion Rights,” Christian Rodriguez followed the Planned Parenthood marchers with a homemade sign above his head. He mentioned Supreme Court rulings on contraception, consensual same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage – which Majority Justice Clarence Thomas suggested in a concurring opinion, should be reviewed by the court.

“In Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion, he just couldn’t wait to say the quiet part out loud,” said Mr Rodriguez, 22, who lives in New York. “There are very strong arguments to be made that women’s liberation is inextricably linked to gay liberation.”

About an hour before Pride began, several elected officials marched down Fifth Avenue in front of significantly smaller crowds than those who gathered for the main event. Among them were Mayor Eric Adams, surrounded by dozens of police officers, and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and Majority Leader.

Using a megaphone, Mr. Schumer stopped at West 17th Street and Fifth Avenue and announced that he was proud to walk with his daughter, Alison Schumer, and his wife, Elizabeth Weiland.

As Mr Schumer continued to walk, a man shouted that he must do more to protect people’s civil rights. “We are fighting and we are going to win,” replied Schumer.

More than half a century after the historic uprising at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 helped galvanize the fight for gay rights, New York’s annual Pride March has become an event of unabashed jubilation.

But revelers on the sidelines and those on the march said Sunday that the current situation in the United States requires renewed activism to uphold and expand the civil rights of women and people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

“Pride has always gone back and forth between these two things: it’s a riot or a celebration,” said Cynthia Nixon, the actress and former gubernatorial candidate, who marched behind the group Planned Parenthood. “In recent years it was a party, but today it is a protest.”

His restrained sentiment was echoed by the many people who lined Fifth Avenue. Many had traveled to New York from out of state, including 15-year-old Kelsey Sutton, who lives in a rural Iowa county and recently came out. Her aunt, Lynsie Slachetka, said Kelsey wouldn’t have found the same receptive community in her home country.

Despite the recent news, Kelsey said they have hope for the future and are grateful to grow up in a time of expanded gay rights. “I feel like things are looking up,” Kelsey said.

While the New York City Pride March was the largest of its kind over the weekend in Manhattan, revelers also celebrated the end of Pride month at events across the city. They included the Queer Liberation March, which began in response to criticism that the wider Pride March had become too corporate.

Charlotte Dragga, 36, a trans woman from Durham, North Carolina, who came to Foley Square in Lower Manhattan on Sunday for the Queer Liberation March, called the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade “absolutely atrocious”.

“It’s just the beginning. What’s next? Gay marriage? Trans rights? Ms. Dragga said. “It’s just going to get worse. It’s going to have impacts beyond just abortion.

Kymme Napoli, 42, of Park Slope, Brooklyn, a counselor at a public hospital who often helps people struggling with the decision to have an abortion, said the overturning of Roe v. Wade “made people want to come out more, to show more support for each other.

Crying as she spoke, she said, “I’m scared for people who aren’t in states like New York.”

On Saturday, Athina Schmidt, 33, traveled from South Carolina to New York to celebrate Pride at the 30th annual Dyke Walk at Bryant Park in Manhattan. Ms Schmidt said the weekend of events was all about inclusivity and acceptance.

“It’s about seeing all these women and feeling like they belong somewhere,” said Schmidt, who identifies as bisexual or pansexual.

Ms. Schmidt is afraid of what overthrowing Roe means for women and the queer community. “I’m very scared, they’re coming for everything next, we’re going to be illegal again,” she said. “Are they going to take our IUDs? And after?”

Maggie Goldstone, who attended the GayJoy and Lex party in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with her partner on Saturday, said she felt conflicted about being joyful and celebrating pride.

“There’s an inherent connection between queer liberation and power,” she said, “and because of that, it’s really important that people appreciate what they’re going to do this weekend and not not be drowned in fear.”

She said the diversity of New York City Pride is empowering because of the visibility it provides. “There’s a feeling of everything possible in New York, there are so many identities here,” she said. But she said she feared the court’s decision would affect the way women perceive themselves everywhere: “You can’t reach your full potential if you perceive yourself as a second-class citizen.”

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