NYC Pride March: 40 years after Stonewall
By Kristen V. Brown
The nations first gay pride parade marched down Fifth Avenue 39 years ago in protest of the violence and discrimination against gays that took place a year earlier and that had resulted in the Stonewall riots marking the birth of the LGBT liberation movement.
Since then, the march has come to encompass a bit more color, a bit more leather and a lot more skin.
This year, the march dons even more pomp and circumstance as New York celebrates the ruby anniversary of the riots, when 40 patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back against police persecution of gays.
Stonewall changed the LGBT story from an individual story to a collective story, said Robert Woodworth, a director with The LGBT Community Center. Were not just celebrating that day, but every day since.A celebration and a protest
The NYC Pride March, however, is not just a celebration of LGBT history, but an annual civil rights march in protest of inequalities such as gay marriage - that still exist despite the movements leaps and bounds since the June 28, 1969, riots, parade organizers said.
On Sunday, some four million attendees are expected to turn out for the march, about a million more people than the event usually draws, according to the organizers. The march is five miles long, kicking off at noon on Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street, and ending where it all began 40 years ago, at Christopher and Greenwich streets.
The march is a declaration, Woodworth said. We are out in the world making noise and everybodys got to pay attention.
This year draws some of the events biggest-name grand marshals, including Anne Kronenberg, LGBT activist and campaign manager to Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States; Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter for the film, Milk; activist Cleve Jones and Gov. David Paterson.
But despite the floats, glitter, and disco music, march director Maurice Michaane emphasized that it is most certainly not a parade.
It is a march and will always be a march until such a time when there is full equality across the board, Michaane said.
Teaching the next generation
Jeremiah Newton, co-founder of the Stonewall Veterans Association, a member of the shrinking group of people who were there for the riots, said this year will be particularly important in introducing the heritage of the gay rights movement to younger generations who may have never even heard of Stonewall.
People really dont really know anymore, but its a very rich history, Newton said. Stonewall was a watershed moment.