Organizers of the many events this weekend in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, credited with launching the modern LGBT rights movement, say an expected turnout of 4.5 million people will make it the world’s largest ever LGBT Pride celebration.
In addition to the larger turnout expected from people from throughout the U.S., New York City Pride this year is the official host of World Pride, an international LGBT Pride event originally started in Europe that will take place for the first time this year in the United States.
Heritage of Pride, the group that has organized New York City’s LGBT Pride events for more than 20 years, has said more than 4 million people were expected to turn out for the official New York Pride March on Sunday, June 30. The group says about 115,000 people were expected to march in over 100 contingents and the remainder of the crowds would be lining the streets as spectators.
A spokesperson for Heritage of Pride said a large number of march contingents would be comprised of LGBT people and their supporters from other countries who were coming to New York to participate in World Pride events that began earlier this week.
Among the Heritage of Pride, or HOP, events planned for June 30 is the official World Pride Closing Ceremony beginning at 7 p.m. in New York’s Times Square, which will include “a slate of influential speakers” and big name entertainers. Among the entertainers scheduled to perform are Melissa Etheridge, Deborah Cox, Jake Shears, MNEK, and The Prom Musical. Lesbian comedian Margaret Cho will host the event.
The official New York City Pride March, organized by Heritage of Pride, is scheduled to kick off on Sunday at noon at 26th Street and 5th Avenue. It will travel past the Stonewall Inn gay bar in Greenwich Village, the site of the Stonewall riots, which has been designated a U.S. Historic Landmark.
The march will end in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Organizers and longtime activists in New York say in recent past years the march has lasted as long as eight hours or more and this year’s march could last even longer.
For the first time this year a dissident group in New York City, the Reclaim Pride Coalition, has organized a separate Queer Liberation March set to take place the same day as the official New York City Pride March on June 30.
But the Queer Liberation March is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., at the site of the Stonewall Inn bar in Greenwich Village. It will travel from its starting point at Sheridan Square in front of the Stonewall along 7th Avenue to 10th Street where it will turn onto 6th Avenue and travel to Central Park, where a rally will take place.
“The Queer Liberation March is a people’s political march – there will be no corporate floats, and no police in our march,” according to a statement released by the Reclaim Pride Coalition. “Our march is a truly grassroots action that will mobilize the community to address the many social and political battles that continue to be fought locally, nationally, and globally,” the statement says.
Although not as large as the World Pride closing ceremony in Times Square organized by Heritage of Pride, the Queer Liberation March Rally, set to take place on Central Park’s Great Lawn, will include speakers and performers. Among them will be nationally acclaimed playwright and co-founder of the AIDS protest group ACT UP, Larry Kramer.
Among those scheduled to perform at the rally are Kevin Aviance and the lesbian singing group Betty.
Activists in New York who have been following the plans for the two marches say many plan to participate in both since the Queer Liberation March will likely end before the New York Pride March begins at noon.
James Fallarino, a spokesperson for Heritage of Pride, has said that while corporate floats will take part in the New York City Pride March in their role as corporate sponsors, such floats will be far outnumbered by contingents made up of nonprofit LGBT or LGBT supportive organizations.
However, the New York City Pride website says that due to the large number of participants in the march, individuals interested in marching must be part of a group or contingent that has registered in advance to join the march. An individual that shows up on the day of the march won’t be allowed to join the march if he or she isn’t part of a preregistered contingent, although they will be allowed to watch the march on the sidelines, which will be fenced off from the street by security barriers set up by the New York City Police Department.
Ann Northrop, one of the lead organizers of the Queer Liberation March, said that march will allow anyone to join its ranks at any location along its route.
Northrop said for people unable to come to New York for the weekend events, organizers will be livestreaming the Queer Liberation March and rally on its website, reclaimpridenyc.org.
The New York City Pride March will be broadcast live from noon to 4 p.m. on WABC TV Channel 7, the ABC Television Network’s New York City affiliate station. It couldn’t immediately be determined whether out of town viewers could see the ABC7 broadcast through a livestreaming on the station’s website.
The following are some of the main events scheduled for this weekend by New York City Pride and the Reclaim Pride Coalition:
• Stonewall 50 Commemoration Rally—Friday, June 28, 6 p.m. at Christopher Street and Waverly Place in Greenwich Village
• Youth Pride—Saturday, June 29, 12 p.m. at Summer Stage in Central Park
• Pride Island Celebration—Saturday, June 29, 2 p.m.; Hudson River Park’s Pier 97. The event will feature big name entertainers, including legendary singer Grace Jones, Teyana Taylor, Kim Petras, Pabllo Vittar, and Amara La Negra.
• PrideFest street fair—Sunday, June 30; 11 a.m.; 4th Avenue between Union Square and Astor Place. The event includes exhibitors, entertainers and fun activities.
• Queer Liberation March—Sunday, June 30, 9:30 a.m., begins at Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village outside the Stonewall Inn. The march ends in Central Park, where a rally will be held.
• New York City Pride March—Sunday, June 30; 12 p.m.; begins at 26th Street and 5th Avenue. Grand marshals include the cast of “Pose,” Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Gay Liberation Front members, the Trevor Project, and Monica Helms.
• World Pride Closing Ceremony—Sunday, June 30; 7 p.m. in Times Square; Melissa Etheridge is among the entertainers scheduled to perform.