NYC Pride March
Sunday, June 27th 2021, the LGBTQIA community and their allies partied in the streets of New York City in the first major public celebration the city has had since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation. Last year’s Pride March was completely virtual, and this year was also supposed to be as well, but in the last couple of weeks plans were changed to make it a hybrid event with an actual march.
The procession itself was along Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, but for many people that was a well-kept secret. To avoid a COVID-19 spreader event, parade organizers kept the actual location to themselves until the last minute. The word soon got out and a decent crowd of paradegoers lined up along the parade route, although many people were confused by the start time.
This was a vastly scaled back event. The route was shorter than previous years and the number of participants were greatly reduced. In size, the parade was about as small as ones you would find in a smaller towns rather than a metropolitan city. All the groups who marched were local. The last-minute nature of he event meant that the national and international groups that usually appear, stayed home. The only politician to appear was Senator Chuck Schumer who proudly proclaimed through a loudspeaker:
“I was the first senator to march, but I won’t be the last.”
Despite it being smaller, the march still managed to make room for five Grand Marshals. One of whom was Ceyenne Doroshow. The community activist is the founder of G.L.I.T.S. whose mission is to provide support to sex workers. Sex work has been a topic of discussion that has grown in recent years. In addition, a bigger focus on the black and brown members of the LGBTQIA community is one of the issues highlighted this year at the NYC Pride March.
The focus on people of color resulted in one the controversies associated with this year’s march. To bring awareness to police brutality and systemic racism, gay police officers were denied an invitation to march under their own banner. This ban is temporary, and NYC Pride March organizers will revisit the issue in 2025. This has greatly upset many gay officers who feel that they shouldn’t have to hide their uniforms to participate with their community’s show of pride.
Another hot button issue this year was Trans rights. A growing backlash in the country has been unleashed on trans people with court cases and laws being proposed that directly effect the community. Recent controversies involve the right of transsexual athletes to participate in school sports and conservatives’ efforts to deny federal civil rights protections to the the trans community. This was the reason given by march organizers for why they chose the slogan for the 51st NYC Pride March as, “The Fight Continues.”
NYC Pride announces the official theme for 2021, “The Fight Continues,” as the kick-off to this year’s events and programming. In a time of tremendous adversity for the community on many fronts, “The Fight Continues” reflects the multitude of battles we’ve been fighting as a country and as a city. With the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, issues of police brutality, the alarming murder rate for trans POC, economic hardship, climate disasters, violent efforts to disenfranchise voters, our rights as a community being questioned at the level of the Supreme Court, and more, we are in the midst of many different fights.NYCPRIDE.org | NEW YORK, NY | Feb. 25, 2021
In addition to politics and social causes, The NYC Pride March is primarily a scene of celebration. Entertainment was provided by the ABC network who built a stage near the start of the parade. Harlem rapper Princess Nokia started the show rapping her hit songs, “I Like Him” and It’s Not My Fault.” R&B superstars En Vogue performed their classic, “Free Your Mind.” Also rocking the crowd was Kat Cunning who just recently made waves with the ode to transmasculinity, “Boys.” Renowned drag performers from the Royal House of Labeja did a stunning dance performance. Big Freedia closed with a rousing rendition of the crowd favorite, “Platinum”.
Plus, virtual performances from various marching bands and appearances from far off groups who could not make it were shown digitally. The street fair on Fourth Avenue returned this year. In the evening, Pride Island provided a space for revelers to parry and dance the night away with. As reduced as much as it was, NYC Pride March was provided a much-needed return to normalcy to just the queer community, but everyone in the city, who have been in much need to go out and enjoy themselves to what has a been rough year.
Here is to an even bigger celebration next year!