Even among thousands of marchers, the deafening chants of “How many more? How many more?” weren’t easy to miss.
The chants came from a cluster of members from Gays Against Guns, who were just one out of more than 400 groups that came out to the 46th annual NYC Pride March on Sunday to show solidarity with the victims of the recent mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where 49 people were killed and dozens injured.
The parade was the biggest in its history, setting a new record with 32,000 marchers. The owner of Pulse, Barbara Poma, and manager, Neema Bahrami, rode on the lead float as honored guests of NYC Pride.
Before the start of the parade, Mayor Bill de Blasio, the grand marshals and a host of community leaders gave remarks. De Blasio told the crowd that this year’s parade is not only a celebration of love, but also a rejection of hate.
“When we talk about New York values, our values are inclusion, tolerance, understanding, diversity – that’s what we believe in and that’s what we celebrate today,” said de Blasio, who joined the march along with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “This parade is New York City saying defiantly, ‘We will stand up to hatred. We will stand up to those who try to undermine our values.’”
Throughout the parade, which began at 36th Street and Fifth Avenue and ended at the historic Stonewall Inn, several marchers wore orange #WeAreOrlando t-shirts. A group of 49 walked silently side by side, wearing all white with photo profiles hanging around their necks, representing those who were shot and killed in the Orlando shooting, including Enrique L. Rios, who was from Brooklyn.
“Everyone has come out for Orlando and to raise awareness around the need for gun control. We have to stop assault rifles,” said Mitchell Bloom, 54, a gay costume designer from Hell’s Kitchen.
Clutching a sign that said, “I <3 MY LESBIAN MOTHER,” Jessame Hannus said the Pride March showed that people who aren’t gay also support the community.
“My mother came out when I was six and I marched in my first Gay Pride Parade when I was 10,” said Hannus, 45, of Rego Park, Queens. “With all that happened last week in Orlando, I feel like I had to come back out and remind everybody that it’s families we’re talking about.”
Isaiah Williams, 19, who marched with the LGBT Community Center, agreed that the Orlando massacre further motivated him to join the parade.
“I’d rather fight for myself and what I believe in than hide,” Williams said. (With Sheila Anne Feeney)
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified the group Gays Against Guns as Gays with Guns.