Now more than ever, the NYC Pride Parade and the LGBT community have much reason to celebrate.
This year's annual Pride Parade falls on the same week that the U.S Supreme Court overturned DOMA and ruled gay marriage oponents could not defend California's Prop 8. Gay Americans are closer than ever to the equal rights that they have been fighting for since the parade began in 1970. This weekend's pride parade is a testament to the achievements that can be made when people stand together to fight unwaveringly for a just cause.
The First New York City Pride Parade took place in 1970. This weekend marks the 43rd annual celebration, and it is amazing to see how drastically the opportunities for LGBT Americans have changed over that time period. When the Gay Pride celebration started in 1970, homosexuality was listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II) alongside pedophilia and zoophilia.
The event that catalyzed the organization of pride week was a police raid on a gay bar on 43 Christopher St. According to the event's official site, the bar was a "staple of the gay community" in NYC, and many LGBT individuals were tired of sitting back and watching their community be ridiculed. They rioted the police raid on June, 28 1969, and the events are now known as the Stonewall Riots. Many people consider the riot to be the catalyst for the LGBT movement for civil rights not just in Manhattan, but across the United States. It promted the formation of gay rights groups throughout the country.
According to NYCPride.org, the weekend of pride begins on Friday, June 28 with a kick-off rally and ends on Sunday with the "Pride Poolside" party. Celebrations on Saturday include a "VIP Rooftop Bar Party" at the Hudson Terrace featuring DJ performances and "Rapture on the River" a female-only dance event at Hudson River Park's Pier 26 in TriBeCa. Finally, the celebrations will conclude on Sunday. In addition to the poolside party, the day will include the "Pridefest" street fair, the historic march and the much-awaited "Dance on the Pier" concert.
Over the past few decades, the favorite event, the "Dance on the Pier," has attracted acclaimed and strong female performers, including Natasha Bedingfield, Whitey Houston, Jennifer Hudson, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Lil' Kim, Jennifer Lopez, Idina Menzel, Bette Midler, and Liza Minelli. This year, Cher, who is recognized for her strong portrayal of female independence, will headline the event. According to the Huffington Post, Managing Director Chris Frederick anticipates that Cher will usher in the first sell-out of the concert in five years when Jennifer Hudson performed. General admission tickets to the concert sell for up to $75, and all proceeds go toward LGBT charities, said Frederick.
Since the first march took place in 1970, it has expanded its important purpose. According to the official website, the idea of the march has "broadened to include recognition of the fight against AIDS and to remember those we have lost to illness, violence and neglect." Together, individuals, sponsors, political candidates and activists will walk down Manhattan's 5th Avenue with decorated vehicles, banners and floats to celebrate gay pride. The march concludes at Christopher St, where it pays a symbolic tribute to the Stonewall Riots that took place there.
Chicago Pride and San Francisco Pride, both of which will take place this Sunday June 30 as NYC Pride draws to a close together constitute the three largest LGBT Pride events in the United States. Chicago Pride is now a 2-weekend long event celebrating its 44th anniversary while, San Francisco Pride began in 1970 with New York Pride in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots.
This weekend's NYC Pride Parade comes at the perfect time to celebrate the incredible milestone for LGBT civil rights. Just last Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and legalized gay marriage. The LGBT community can now celebrate the very milestones they have been fighting for since the first Pride weekend began over four decades ago.