Along the edges of New York’s Madison Square Park, as the New York City Police Department Band played a rousing rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” a young girl in a rainbow dress and waving a rainbow flag, seated atop her father’s shoulders, sang and shouted with such enthusiasm that she might have imagined herself at the front of New York City’s 45th annual Pride March.
This year’s NYC Pride theme “We Have Won When We’re One” was a tacit acknowledgement of the past year’s political victories, which have included the legalization of same-sex marriage in seven more states, while also a recognition of the work to be done.
The first NYC Pride Rally occurred in June of 1969, one month after the Stonewall Riots, when more than 500 people gathered for a “Gay Power” demonstration in New York’s Washington Square Park.
Forty-five years later, the Empire State Building glowed rainbow spectacular with a sparkle in its halo in honor of NYC Pride Week.
NYC Pride weekend was an all-star gay cavalcade of talent, marked by performances from Demi Lovato, Sharon Needles, and De’Borah, along with appearances from Michelle Visage and Dina Delicious.
On Sunday, the 45th annual LGBT Pride March followed a freshly-painted lavender line down the center of Fifth Avenue – from 36th Street to the western end of Christopher Street in the Village.
More than 1.8 million spectators cheered for a who’s-who of power politicos, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Chuck Schumer, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Mayor de Blasio and his wife Chirlane, as well as a powerful and proud triumvirate of Grand Marshals: Rea Carey of the Task Force, television and Broadway star Jonathan Groff, and Laverne Cox, the transgender advocate and break-out star of Netflix’s hit series “Orange is the New Black.”
More than 320 groups marched in the Pride March, dancing and cheering to music from nearly 70 bedizened and bedazzled floats, while 3,000 NYC Pride volunteers provided assistance and direction.
Crowd favorites included FLAGGOTS, a merry band of male flaggers whose flag and baton expertise wowed the crowds into jubilant applause, as did the New York City Police Department Band whose synchronized marching kept the crowds cheering.
One activist from SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) carried a sign that read “Wisdom is Sexy,” while many of the afternoon’s signs included declarations of love and commitment, such as the JUST MARRIED declaration surrounding Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney and his newlywed husband.
The 28th annual NYC Pride Dance on the Pier at Pier 26 on Hudson River Park featured DJs Grind and Pagano, as well as a crowd-pleasing performance by “Glee” favorite Demi Lovato who sang a medley of songs, including her hit “Really Don’t Care” while a male couple kissed alongside a photograph of Russian homophobe Vladimir Putin.
All the proceeds from the Dance on the Pier benefit the official events of NYC Pride and LGBT community organizations.
NYC Pride weekend wrapped up with the world’s longest-running LGBT fireworks display along the Hudson.
As Chris Frederick, Managing Director of NYC Pride, eloquently stated, “All of us are in this together and we shouldn’t be satisfied until equality is achieved for all.”