In NYC, marking 50th anniversary of Pride, no matter what

Pride_Parade_New_York_64059 A person holds up a sign referencing the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar that was the site of a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBT) community in response to a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, during a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York, as marchers celebrated the 50th anniversary of the gay rights movement.
Pride_Parade_New_York_60365 A man wearin rainbow wings and a rainbow colored mask claps as he participates in a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York. The march commemmorated the 50th anniversary of Pride. New York's massive Pride parade canceled due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
Pride_Parade_New_York_99644 A man carries a Billy Porter puppet during a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York. The march commemorated the 50th anniversary of the gay Pride movement in lieu of New York's normally massive gay Pride celebration which was canceled this year due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus. Porter is an openly gay performer.
Pride_Parade_New_York_65494 A participant holds a portrait of Tamir Rice, a 12-year old Black boy who was killed in Cleveland, Ohio by a white police officer, during a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York. The march was held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Pride movement after New York's massive Pride march was canceled due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
Pride_Parade_New_York_56382 A person wears pride themed boots as they await the start of a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York. The march commemorated the 50th anniversary of Pride after New York's normally massive gay Pride march was cancelled due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
Pride_Parade_New_York_50898 Kate Schwartz holds her daughter Rya, two, as the toddler reaches out to touch a giant puppet representing singer/songwriter Janelle Monae, who identifies as pansexual, during a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York. The march commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first tpride march in New York.
Pride_Parade_New_York_36727 A participant, second from left, holds a portrait of of Tony McDade, a Black-trans man allegedly killed earlier this month by police in Tallahassee as another, right, holds a photo of Maurice Gordon Jr., killed by a New Jersey state trooper two days before the death of George Floyd, during a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York, as people commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Pride movement. This march was held in lieu of New York's massive Pride celebration which was canceled due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
Pride_Parade_New_York_63725 A woman shields herself from the midday sun as she awaits the start of a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York.
Pride_Parade_New_York_09717 A person wearing rainbow-colored wings and a matching rainbow-colored tee-shirt walks through the street during a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York.
Pride_Parade_New_York_00888 A person holds a sign as another person protects themself from the midday sun with a rainbow color umbrella as poeple gathered for the start of a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York.
Pride_Parade_New_York_19444 A man peers out of a coffee shop while watching demonstrators in a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality pass the shop, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in Lower Manhattan in New York.
Pride_Parade_New_York_27135 A person wearing a translucent rainbow-colored cape with the words Black Lives Matter written on it spreads it out as they march during a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York.
Pride_Parade_New_York_01198 A costumed participants joins other protesters as he and several other people stand on the ledge of a building to get some shade and a better view of the crowd during a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York.
Pride_Parade_New_York_17200 Demonstrators hold a banner at the start of a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York.
Pride_Parade_New_York_67979 People hold signs as they participate in a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in Lower Manhattan in New York.
Pride_Parade_New_York_72065 Protesters stretch out a banner at the beginning of a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York.
Pride_Parade_New_York_76712 Protesters march through the streets during a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York.
Pride_Parade_New_York_75239 People hold signs as they participate in a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York.
Pride_Parade_New_York_36894 Organizers rally participants at the start of a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York.
Pride_Parade_New_York_38318 Participants in a queer liberation march for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality spread their banner across a street in Lower Manhattan, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in New York.
APTOPIX_Pride_New_York_01972 A rainbow light display illuminates the night sky in the West Village near The Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the gay rights movement, Saturday, June 27, 2020, in New York. The light installation was presented by Kind snack foods to mark what would have been the 50th anniversary of the NYC Pride March, which is canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pride_New_York_04041 A rainbow light display illuminates the night sky in the West Village near The Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the gay rights movement, Saturday, June 27, 2020, in New York. The light installation was presented by Kind snack foods to mark what would have been the 50th anniversary of the NYC Pride March, which is canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pride_New_York_99850 A rainbow light display illuminates the night sky in the West Village near The Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the gay rights movement, Saturday, June 27, 2020, in New York. The light installation was presented by Kind snack foods to mark what would have been the 50th anniversary of the NYC Pride March, which is canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pride_New_York_68425 One World Trade Center stands in the background, behind a rainbow light display which illuminates the night sky in the West Village near The Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the gay rights movement, Saturday, June 27, 2020, in New York. The light installation was presented by Kind snack foods to mark what would have been the 50th anniversary of the NYC Pride March, which is canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pride_Weekend_New_York_93502 In this June 26, 2020 photo, provided by the Office of N.Y. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is shown lit in colors of Transgender Flag observing the 50th anniversary of LGBTQ Pride. The bridge spans the Hudson River, connecting Tarrytown and Nyack, N.Y. On Friday, Gov. Cuomo announced that state landmarks will be lit in honor of Pride Weekend.
(1/25)

NEW YORK (AP) — There were protests, rainbow flags and performances — it was LGBTQ Pride, after all.

But what was normally an outpouring on the streets of New York City looked a little different this year, thanks to social distancing rules required by the coronavirus.

With the city’s massive Pride parade canceled, Sunday’s performances were virtual, the flags flew in emptier than normal spaces and the protesters were masked.

The disruption caused by the virus would be an aggravation in any year, but particularly in this one, the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in New York City.

“It’s a great thing to see because the original Pride started with the civil rights movement,” Matthew Fischer said as he passed out hand sanitizer Sunday at Foley Square. “So we’re really going back to the roots of that and making sure we encompass everything that empowers people to be who they are.”

Fischer said it was important this year to show cooperation between the Black and LGBTQ communities, given the recent deaths of George Floyd and others that have sparked demonstrations against police brutality.

A number of people in the crowd at Foley Square held signs reading “All Black Lives Matter,” with a black fist surrounded by rainbow colors. Most wore masks, though some scrapped social distancing in favor of hugging friends. One man held a sign advertising free hugs.

The first Pride march, on June 28, 1970, was a marker of the Stonewall uprisings of the year before in New York City’s West Village that helped propel a global LGBTQ movement.

Initially called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, it looked much like the protests that have streamed through the streets of New York City daily in recent weeks over racial injustice. Marchers trooped to Central Park, chanting “Gay power!” and “Gay and proud!”

Cities around the world in subsequent years followed New York’s lead, hosting commemorative events.

The historic Stonewall Inn, known as the birthplace of the gay rights movement, furloughed its employees and has been shuttered more than three months amid the pandemic. But it announced Sunday it will receive a $250,000 contribution from the Gill Foundation — money that will go toward several months of rent and utilities.

“I don’t think things will really be back to normal for us until there’s a vaccine, so this is a much-needed lifeline,” co-owner Stacy Lentz told The Associated Press. “It would be devastating to think about walking down Christopher Street and seeing that building shuttered.”

Organizers of this year’s event in New York City were determined to showcase some of that spirit, with a TV broadcast honoring the front line workers who have been so necessary in the fight against the virus as well as people and institutions of the LGBTQ community.

The show featured several performers including Janelle Monáe, Deborah Cox and Billy Porter, and appearances from a number of other celebrities.

The Queer Liberation March for Black Lives and Against Police Brutality, meanwhile, marched from Lower Manhattan toward Washington Square Park. The organizers are activists who held a protest march last year as an alternative to the main Pride parade, saying it had become too corporate.

The group wrote on Twitter that police had become aggressive later in the afternoon, saying it ended its live streaming of the march early because police were using pepper spray and making arrests.

Joseph Engargeau feared there might be no event this year because of the coronavirus restrictions. Instead, he felt this scaled-down version better resembled the first Pride than the massive event the parade became.

Engargeau, wearing a rainbow mask, said he’s watched tourists through the years come to snap photos of the Stonewall, only to realize it doesn’t look like anything special.

“It’s just this nothing place,” he said, “but it meant everything.”

Other celebrations of the day were visual. At Rockefeller Center, more than 100 rainbow flags were placed around the center rink, and the plaza was lit up in rainbow colors.

In the West Village, a rainbow light art installation next to the Stonewall Inn was expected to illuminate the sky in tribute to the uprising and the original march, as well as those who have marched and fought through the years.

“The feeling doesn’t go away because of the coronavirus,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an interview with WABC-TV.

Gatherings of large groups of people are still barred in New York City as part of an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus. Other parades canceled this spring included the St. Patrick’s Day parade and Puerto Rican Day parade.

Still, people have gathered by the thousands since the late-May death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota. One of the largest demonstrations was a June 14 demonstration in Brooklyn, where thousands gathered for a Black Trans Lives Matter protest.

__

Associated Press writer Jim Mustian contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Related Categories:

Life & Style | Lifestyle News | National News

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up