– By Hemant Persaud
“GUYS, I SAID I HATED FIGS -JESUS” was posted on a sign by a young girl at the New York City Pride March on Sunday, June 20, 2018—not a parade because, “the first LGBT Pride was held on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. It was an unpermitted, explicitly political protest of anti-LGBT policies and attitudes. “[The] commitment at Heritage of Pride is to continue recognizing our Pride event as a March until complete and full equality has been achieved for all LGBT people,” according to the ‘March FAQ’ page of the NYC Pride website.
The step off began at noon on 16thstreet and 7thavenue and made its way down the new route, dispersing at 29thstreet and 5thavenue. The new route was established this year to prepare for the 50thanniversary of the historical Stonewall Uprising and record attendance and participation expected for WorldPride in 2019. More than 400 groups participated along the route for the over 8-plus hours march on a hot day filled with color and pride. If you looked up above you, there were people sitting on their window sills sipping mimosas and on the corner of W 15thstreet and 5thavenue, across Eddie Bauer, an older gentleman was seen doing the popular ‘floss’ dance moves through his window to the eager excitement of the crowd below.This year’s Grand Marshals were Billie Jean King, former professional tennis player; Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund (Lambda Legal), a nonprofit American civil rights organization for LGBT people; Tyler Ford, writer, public speaker and advocate of transgender and non-binary people; and Kenita Placide, human rights, HIV and LGBT activist from St. Lucia.
Among the new changes this year, besides the new route, included the number of floats and vehicles and people who could participate in the march—groups were encouraged to cap their contingents to just 200 individuals due to increasing demand and the length of the march.
Heritage of Pride, founded in 1984, plans the annual NYC Pride during the end of June commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Riots that began the modern Gay Rights Movement. There is so much work left to do to ensure full equality for the LGBTQ+ communities, but in the meantime, the fire will continue to burn, and we’ll eat some figs while we’re at it.