More than four million people lined the streets of New York City for the World Pride Parade on Sunday.
The parade began at noon at 26th Street and Fifth Avenue in the Chelsea neighbourhood and wound its way past The Stonewall Inn and then back up into Midtown to the delight of the millions of people from around the world that was visiting Manhatten.
The Gay Liberation Front, the cast of “Pose”, UK Black Pride co-founder Phyll Opoku-Gyimah and the Trevor Project were grand marshals of the parade alongside Monica Helms, a transgender activist who created the trans Pride flag.
Parade organizers said 150,000 people marched across the 100 floats, with a myriad of groups that included OutRight Action International, Capital Pride and the Human Rights Campaign.
The parade took place two days after the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which began on June 28, 1969.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday signed a bill that bans the use of so-called gay and trans “panic” defences in court in his state. An estimated 45,000 people participated in the Queer Liberation March that also took place in Manhattan on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, a crowd of about 2,000 people gathered outside the Stonewall Inn. At the Queer Liberation March near the bar, some participants said the larger Pride parade had become too commercialized and heavily policed.
“What’s important to remember is that this is a protest against the monetization of the Pride parade, against the police brutality of our community, against the poor treatment of sections of our community, of black and brown folk, of immigrants,” said Jake Seller, a 24-year-old Indiana native who now lives in Brooklyn and worked as one of the march’s volunteers.
Protesters carried anti-Trump and queer liberation signs, chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!”
“We march for the liberation of our community so they can live and celebrate their identity. So they can reclaim it. This will always remain a protest, not an advertisement,” Seller said.
Other attendees focused on the progress that’s been made within the LGBTQ community over the last few decades.
“We’ve come so far in the past 20 years,” said 55-year-old Gary Piper, who came from Kansas to celebrate Pride with his partner. “I remember friends who would be snatched off the streets in Texas for dressing in drag. They’d have to worry about being persecuted for their identity.”
“But now we’re so much more accepted. I’m not saying we don’t have ways to go, but let’s celebrate how far we’ve come,” he said.
The police presence at the march was heavy, with several officers posted at every corner. Metal barricades were erected along the entire parade route.
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