NYC Pride March
|NYC Pride March|
|Frequency||Annually, last Sunday in June|
|Location(s)||New York City, U.S.|
|Inaugurated||June 28, 1970, as part of Christopher Street Liberation Day|
|Organized by||Heritage of Pride, since 1984|
|Part of a series on|
The NYC Pride March is an annual event celebrating the LGBTQ community in New York City. Among the largest Pride events in the world, the NYC Pride March attracts tens of thousands of participants and millions of sidewalk spectators each June. The route of the Pride parade through Lower Manhattan traverses south on Fifth Avenue, through Greenwich Village, passing the Stonewall National Monument, site of the June 1969 riots that launched the modern movement for LGBTQ+ rights.
The March is a central component of NYC Pride, together with the Rally, PrideFest, and Pride Island events. One LGBT travel guide claims the "fabulosity of Gay New York is unrivaled" and "queer culture seeps into every corner of its five boroughs." To date the largest NYC Pride March coincided with Stonewall 50 – WorldPride NYC 2019, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the riots at the Stonewall Inn, with 150,000 participants and five million visitors to Manhattan on Pride weekend; an estimated four million attended the parade.
Early on the morning of Saturday, June 28, 1969, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people rioted, following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar at 53 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan. This event, together with further protests and rioting over the following nights, marked a watershed moment in the modern LGBT rights movement and the impetus for organizing LGBT pride marches on a much larger scale. Veterans of the riot formed a group, the Stonewall Veterans Association, which has continued to drive the advancement of LGBT rights from the rioting at the Stonewall Inn, to the present day.
On November 2, 1969, Craig Rodwell, his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy, and Linda Rhodes proposed an annual march to be held in New York City by way of a resolution at the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO) meeting in Philadelphia.
We propose that a demonstration be held annually on the last Saturday in June in New York City to commemorate the 1969 spontaneous demonstrations on Christopher Street and this demonstration be called CHRISTOPHER STREET LIBERATION DAY. No dress or age regulations shall be made for this demonstration.
All attendees to the ERCHO meeting in Philadelphia voted for the march except for Mattachine Society of New York, which abstained. Members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) attended the meeting and were seated as guests of Rodwell's group, Homophile Youth Movement in Neighborhoods (HYMN).
Meetings to organize the march began in early January at Rodwell's apartment in 350 Bleecker Street. At first there was difficulty getting some of the major New York City organizations like Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) to send representatives. Craig Rodwell and his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy, Michael Brown, Marty Nixon, and Foster Gunnison Jr. of Mattachine made up the core group of the CSLD Umbrella Committee (CSLDUC). For initial funding, Gunnison served as treasurer and sought donations from the national homophile organizations and sponsors, while Sargeant solicited donations via the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop customer mailing list and Nixon worked to gain financial support from GLF in his position as treasurer for that organization. Other mainstays of the organizing committee were Judy Miller, Jack Waluska, Steve Gerrie and Brenda Howard of GLF. Believing that more people would turn out for the march on a Sunday, and so as to mark the date of the start of the Stonewall uprising, the committee scheduled the date for the first march for Sunday, June 28, 1970. With Dick Leitsch's replacement as president of Mattachine NY by Michael Kotis in April 1970, opposition to the march by Mattachine ended.
Brenda Howard, a bisexual activist, is known as the "Mother of Pride" for her work in coordinating the march, and she also originated the idea for a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations that are now held around the world every June. Additionally, Howard along with the bisexual activist Robert A. Martin (aka Donny the Punk) and gay activist L. Craig Schoonmaker are credited with popularizing the word "Pride" to describe these festivities. Bisexual activist Tom Limoncelli later stated, "The next time someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why [LGBT] Pride Month is June tell them 'A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.'"
There was little open animosity, and some bystanders applauded when a tall, pretty girl carrying a sign "I am a Lesbian" walked by. – The New York Times coverage of Gay Liberation Day, 1970
Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with a march from Sheridan Square, covering the 51 blocks to the Sheep Meadow in Central Park. The march took less than half the scheduled time due to excitement, but also due to wariness about walking through the city with gay banners and signs. Although the parade permit was delivered only two hours before the start of the march, participants encountered little resistance from onlookers. The New York Times reported (on the front page) that the march extended for about 15 city blocks. Reporting by The Village Voice was positive, describing "the out-front resistance that grew out of the police raid on the Stonewall Inn one year ago". There was also an assembly on Christopher Street.
The first March in 1970 was organized by the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee. Since 1984 the parade and related LGBT pride events in New York City have been produced and organized by Heritage of Pride (HOP), a volunteer spearheaded, non-partisan, tax-exempt, non-profit organization. HOP welcomes participation regardless of age, creed, gender, gender identification, HIV status, national origin, physical, mental or developmental ability, race, or religion. HOP does not use qualifiers for participation.
In 2021, NYC Pride organizers announced that uniformed law enforcement would be banned from marching in the parade until 2025, when the ban will be reexamined by committees and the executive board of NYC Pride. 
For many years the march was only available locally to Time Warner Cable customers, via its NY1 news channel. In 2017 WABC-TV broadcast the NYC LGBT Pride March live for the first time regionally, and made the stream available to all parts of the globe where such content is accessible. WABC-TV continues to broadcast the first three hours of each years march (which has had an actual run time over nine hours in 2017 and 2018). Both the 2017 and 2018 broadcasts were Emmy nominated programs. In 2022, the WABC-TV broadcast was also available via streaming from ABC News Live and Hulu.
Over the course of five decades, various groups have accused the NYC Pride March of losing its political, activist roots and becoming a venue for corporate pinkwashing, rainbow capitalism, and assimilation of queer identities. Such critiques have given rise to various independent events conducted without permits or police. Since 1993 the NYC Dyke March has been held annually on the Saturday prior. Since 1994 the New York City Drag March has been held annually on the Friday prior; it began as a protest against the ban on leather and drag during the 25th anniversary of Stonewall. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Stonewall in 2019, the Reclaim Pride Coalition organized the first Queer Liberation March, held on Sunday morning, hours before the NYC Pride parade.
The first march, in 1970, was front-page news in The New York Times reporting the march extended for about fifteen city blocks. The march had thousands of participants with organizers "who said variously 3,000 and 5,000 and even 20,000." The variance could be due, in part, that although the march started with over a dozen homosexual and feminist contingents, parade spectators were encouraged to join the procession. Currently Heritage of Pride requires preregistration of marchers, and sets up barricades along the entire route discouraging the practice.
Although estimating crowd size is an imprecise science, the NYC March is consistently considered the largest Pride parade in the U.S., with 2.1 million people in 2015, and 2.5 million in 2016. In 2018 attendance was estimated around two million. In 2019, as part of Stonewall 50 – WorldPride NYC, up to five million people took part over the final weekend of the celebrations, with an estimated four million in attendance at the parade. The twelve-hour parade included 150,000 pre-registered participants among 695 groups. It was the largest parade of any kind in the city's history and four times as large as the annual Times Square Ball on New Year's Eve.
Dominique Morgan, Award winning artist and CEO of The Okra Project, TS Madison, artist, activist and TV/Movie Star, Chase Strangio, ACLU National, Punky Johnson, comedian and Saturday Night Live member and Schuyler Byler, Social Media influencer, Trans Activist
- Mj Rodriguez, Indya Moore, and Dominique Jackson from the cast of Pose; Phyll Opoku-Gyimah; Monica Helms, creator of the transgender pride flag; The Trevor Project; the Gay Liberation Front
- American Civil Liberties Union; Brooke Guinan, the first openly transgender firefighter for FDNY; Krishna Stone, activist with Gay Men's Health Crisis; Geng Le, Chinese LGBT rights leader and founder of Blued
- Jazz Jennings; Subhi Nahas, Syrian refugee who co-founded the first LGBT magazine in Syria; Cecilia Chung
- Ian McKellen
- Derek Jacobi
- Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera
- J. Christopher Neal – the first openly bisexual Grand Marshal
- Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in United States v. Windsor, which resulted in Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act being struck down
- Earl Fowlkes
- Harry Belafonte
- Cyndi Lauper
- Chris Salgardo, CEO of Kiel's Since 1851.
- Connie Kopelov & Phyllis Siegel, New York City's first legally married same-sex couple.
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2009: Stonewall 40
2009 marked the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City. Accordingly, HOP in conjunction with NYC local government promoted the event for people from around the world to attend. Grand Marshals that year were:
- Gilbert Baker
- Candice Cayne
- New York Governor David A. Paterson
- New York Senator Charles Schumer
- NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg
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