BY PAUL SCHINDLER
There may be no LGBTQ Pride March in Manhattan on the last Sunday in June this year, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be grand marshals.
Heritage of Pride (also known as NYC Pride), the producer of the annual march and related events during the final week of June, has announced that a virtual celebration aired on WABC Channel 7 will feature grand marshals Dan Levy, the inspired showrunner and star of “Schitt’s Creek,” the Ali Forney Center, which provides housing and social services to LGBTQ youth in New York, Yanzi Peng, a human rights activist who is executive director of LGBT Rights China and hosts the China Rainbow Media Awards, and Victoria Cruz, a queer rights activist who is a retired domestic violence counselor.
Levy just completed the sixth and final season of “Schitt’s Creek,” a Canadian sitcom in which he plays the grown son of a stupendously rich family suddenly down on their luck and forced to live in a rundown motel in the eponymous town.
Levy created and wrote the show, which also starred his father, Eugene Levy, and Catherine O’Hara, both brilliant comedic actors whose pioneering work included “SCTV” and the films “Waiting for Guffman,” “A Mighty Wind,” and “Best in Show.”
“Schitt’s Creek” has been widely lauded for its compelling plot line featuring Dan Levy, who is gay and plays a gay character slowly embracing his first meaningful loving relationship.
“The NYC Pride March is such a pillar of our community and I am incredibly honored to be recognized alongside the other Grand Marshals on its 50th anniversary,” Levy said in a written statement. “While the physical circumstances are less than ideal, our community has always come together in the face of adversity, and this year’s broadcast is no exception.”
The Ali Forney Center, named for a gender-nonconforming youth murdered in Harlem in 1997, was founded in 2002 and now serves nearly 1,400 youths annually through a 24-hour drop-in center providing more than 70,000 meals, medical and mental health services at an on-site clinic, and a scattered-site housing program.
LGBT Rights China’s Yanzi Peng has, since 2011, hosted several China Rainbow Media Awards in Beijing, recognizing outstanding achievement in print, online, and video coverage of the LGBTQ community.
Victoria Cruz, who was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Brooklyn as a small child, came out as transgender as a youth with the support of her family. Featured in David France’s 2017 documentary “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” Cruz worked for many years at the Cobble Hill Nursing Home in Brooklyn, before joining the Anti-Violence Project staff in 1997, where she counseled domestic violence survivors. In 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder recognized Cruz with a National Crime Victim Service Award.
The Channel 7 broadcast, from noon to 2 p.m. on June 28, will include performances by Janelle Monáe, Deborah Cox, Billy Porter, and Luísa Sonza, and appearances by Wilson Cruz, Miss Richfield 1981, and Margaret Cho. Carson Kressley and Sam Champion will be among those helming the show.
Heritage of Pride’s march director Brian J. Heck said, “While we are saddened to not be able to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the NYC Pride March in person, we are thrilled to still be able to recognize our Grand Marshals. These inspiring pillars of the LGBTQIA+ community are leading the way as we begin the journey of the next 50 years of Pride. This year we are also proud to honor all of the front-line workers who put their own health at risk to unconditionally serve our LGBTQIA+ community with love and compassion during the COVID-19 pandemic. These heroes prove that the future is a place where we embrace the full rainbow of our community.”
This story first appeared on gaycitynews.nyc.