Members of LGBTQ community turn Christopher Park into queer space amid weekend protests

The Stonewall Inn on the first weekend of Pride Month. (Photo by Matt Tracy)

Following the conclusion of a lively demonstration centered on racial injustice and police abuse in Washington Square Park on June 6, a diverse group of LGBTQ folks helped transform Christopher Park into a vibrant queer space on the first weekend of Pride Month.

Music blared from a portable speaker, dancers let loose, couples embraced, and even dogs mingled together as the community filed into a space that served as an alternative to a bar scene that is temporarily on hold due to the pandemic. The fading sun peeked through the trees with just over an hour to go until what would be the final day of an oft-criticized curfew imposed on the five boroughs.

It was a large and powerful demonstration at Washington Square Park on June 6. (MATT TRACY)

Many in the gathering were individuals who walked over from Washington Square Park — cardboard signs in hand — to make a pit stop in the park on a warm, summery evening that featured just enough wind to blow the Rainbow Flags perched on the fence around the park.

A sign attached to someone’s backpack at Washington Square stressed the importance of — and dangers facing — Black transgender lives.

Across the street, thirsty folks lined up at The Duplex bar for their cocktails-to-go. Next door to The Duplex, the Stonewall Inn — the site of multiple protests within the last week focusing on police abuse of Black transgender individuals — remained adorned with images featuring, among others, Tony McDade, a trans man who was killed by police in Tallahassee, Florida, late last month, and Nina Pop, a trans woman who was murdered in her small town Missouri apartment earlier last month. One large sign reminded everyone that “PRIDE IS A RIOT #BLM” and candles stood at the edge of the bar’s brick wall.

At multiple demonstrations in the city on that same day, some protesters brought attention to the plight of Black trans individuals who continue to be under siege both from deadly violence and from targeted policing here in New York thanks to an outdated loitering law used by law enforcement officers to harass and arrest trans women of color.

Unable to mingle at gay bars due to the coronavirus pandemic, queer folks instead used Christopher Park as a social space on June 6. (MATT TRACY)

At Washington Square Park that afternoon, one man attached a sign to his backpack that read, “Black cis ‘n trans lives matter.” Several miles away, over at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza just minutes before curfew, a “Black Trans Lives Matter” sign emerged in the air from a large crowd of protesters.

A collection of Rainbow Flags blow in the wind at Christopher Park. (MATT TRACY)


A beautiful piece of art featuring an image of the late Tony McDade. (MATT TRACY)
The front of the Stonewall Inn featuring signs and a photo of Nina Pop, who was killed early last month. (MATT TRACY)
Jamagio Jamar Berryman and Jazzaline Ware, who were both killed last year, are not forgotten. (MATT TRACY)
With helicopters buzzing above and nearby police officers surveilling, protesters at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn chanted “George Floyd” and “Breonna Taylor,” while sign in the distance read “Black Trans Lives Matter.” (MATT TRACY)

This story first appeared on gaycitynews.com.