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NYC Pride March 2019: Meet the grand marshals

This year's pride grand marshals will preside over the march as well as the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.

The 2019 Pride March will be on June

The 2019 Pride March will be on June 30. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Many in the LGBTQ community will see a bit of themselves represented in this year's NYC Pride March grand marshals.

To celebrate 50 years since the Stonewall uprising, NYC Pride chose a historic LGBTQ activist group, a transgender veteran, the leader of UK Black Pride, the cast of "Pose" and a youth suicide prevention group to lead the march.

Scroll down to learn more about the 2019 grand marshals ahead of Sunday's march.

Gay Liberation Front 

The Gay Liberation Front is nearly as old as the modern gay rights movement itself. The LGBTQ activist organization was formed in the weeks following the Stonewall uprising in 1969.

John Knoebel, a founding member, said the group is "extremely honored" to be among this year's Pride March grand marshals.

"Our iconic 1969 cry, 'Out of the closets and into the streets,' tells of a time when we stood up to battle oppression at Stonewall and then within a month formed GLF as the first post-Stonewall organization to fight for our rights," Knoebel said. "We could never have dreamed that our first Christopher Street Liberation Day March in 1970 is now celebrated by millions of our sisters and brothers in countries around the world."

Knoebel also warned that the fight for equality is not over.

"We hope this honor helps our history of struggle to be recognized as we pass our legacy along to a new generation to continue the fight."

Monica Helms

Monica Helms is a transgender activist, a Navy veteran who served on two submarines, and the founder of the Transgender Pride Flag, which has blue, pink and white stripes. She is also the author of a memoir, "More Than Just A Flag."

When Helms found out she would be a grand marshal, she cried. 

"It was an amazing, wonderful honor that I never expected to ever receive," she said. 

Helms said she hopes to meet some of her "trans brothers and sisters from other parts of the world" at the march. 

"I’m there, not for me, but I’m there for the entire trans community," she said. "They are there with me, and so I cannot wait to see them and to thank them."

She added that she hopes to see lots of trans flags along the route, noting that it is 20 years old this year. 

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, also known as Lady Phyll, is the co-founder and executive director of UK Black Pride.

"It is an honor to march alongside those whose work is helping re-imagine queer futures. Visibility and representation is hugely important for queer people of color across the world, many of whom are fighting for the right to live, love and be free," Opoku-Gyimah said. "I hope queer people of color see themselves represented front and center at this march and know they've always had a defining role in this liberation movement and that there is a global community of people working hard for the world they all deserve to live in."

Held in July, UK Black Pride is considered Europe's largest celebration for LGBTQ people of African, Caribbean, Latin American, Middle Eastern and Asian descent. This year, as attendance continues to grow, organizers are moving the event to a larger location in Haggerston Park in east London.

The cast of 'Pose'

"Pose," a series set in 1980s New York City, made history when it debuted last year with the largest ever transgender cast. Five of the leading roles are played by transgender actors and more are in supporting roles. The show explores the city's underground ball culture alongside the rise of the Trump era.

Three cast members — Dominique Jackson (Elektra), Indya Moore (Angel) and MJ Rodriguez (Blanca) — will represent the show at the march. 

"We're going to be walking in the forefront, actually being in front letting people know that we're here for the cause," Rodriguez said about being a marshal. “It can be overwhelming and scary, being in front of a whole bunch of people knowing that you're there for such a huge thing like Pride … But I'm so happy about it. I’m so glad that I get to show for my community."

Rodriguez said she hopes people take the stories of transwomen of color seriously.

"There are still a lot of us out there that are being killed constantly, every single day, and it shows. I mean, on TV, on the news," she said. "I think 'Pose' is one of the shows that's actually tapping into these things and making sure the conversation is carried on. I hope the audience members carry it on too."

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project was founded in 1998 by the creators of the award-winning short film "Trevor," which tells the story of a 13-year-old gay boy in 1981. The organization provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services, including a 24/7 lifeline, to LGBTQ youth across the country.

"Serving as a grand marshal at this year's NYC Pride is incredibly meaningful to The Trevor Project, especially since the city is this year's host of WorldPride during the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising," said Amit Paley, CEO & executive director of The Trevor Project. "We stand on the shoulders of so many brave activists who fought for our rights, paving the way for acceptance, equality, and ultimately enabling our organization's work."

At this year's Pride March, the staff and volunteers of The Trevor Project will be celebrating "21 years of saving LGBTQ young lives," Paley said.

With Meghan Giannotta

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