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NEW YORK TIMES: Pride March Lights Up New York City, Despite Political Storm Clouds

Tens of thousands of people wrapped themselves in L.G.B.T.Q. Pride flags and wore their brightest rainbow gear to celebrate the New York City Pride March on Sunday. Despite the cloudy, humid day, gold and silver glitter lit up the sky.

The march commemorates the 1969 Stonewall uprising, the catalyst for the modern L.G.B.T.Q. rights movement. The New York march is the largest of its kind in the United States, with organizers this year expecting around 25,000 marchers and around two and a half million spectators.

Luccy Griman, 52, of Waterbury, Conn., was among the paraders on Sunday, marching for the 20th time. Over the past two decades, the annual celebration has changed in many ways, he said, but one thing remains constant: the collective spirit to embrace who you are and live in the moment.

“Every year, I’m here to celebrate being together, to dress up and have fun,” he said. “To celebrate life now.”

Despite the joyous mood, the upcoming presidential election and laws threatening the rights of the L.G.B.T.Q. community motivated many to show their support at the parade.

Edwin Josue, 69, said he hoped that the swell of pride shown on Sunday would inspire the younger generation to express themselves freely and fight for equality for all.

“This is an expression of our freedom; this is an expression of our diversity,” Mr. Josue said.

This year, some paraders called attention to the war in Gaza. Palestinian flags waved on many floats, and some attendees wore kaffiyehs and hats with watermelon designs in solidarity with the Palestinian cause. As the parade reached Christopher Street near Waverly Place in midafternoon, about a dozen pro-Palestinian demonstrators sat down in front of a float and prevented it from moving for about a half-hour as a large crowd chanted slogans to support them.

The police took the protesters, their wrists bound with zip ties, into custody around 3 p.m., and the parade resumed, with red paint symbolizing blood remaining in the street.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was wearing a Metropolitan Transportation Authority T-shirt, was one of the many public officials attending the parade. On Friday, she and President Biden attended the unveiling of the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center. The Christopher Street subway station in Manhattan was also renamed to celebrate the birthplace of the movement.

Gilbert Baker created the rainbow flag in 1978. The first flags had eight colors, each with its own meaning: pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, turquoise for magic, blue for peace and purple for spirit.

The theme of this year’s march is “Reflect. Empower. Unite.” Sandra Pérez, the executive director of NYC Pride, said that the march brings together people from all over the city and beyond “in joy, to share the accomplishments, talents and resilience of our community.” For many, the parade is an opportunity to celebrate color — in clothing, accessories and even face and body paint.

Gotham Cheer is an adult L.G.B.T.Q. cheerleading team that performs primarily in New York City and raises money for charities that serve L.G.B.T.Q., homeless and disadvantaged youth. Members also participate in community service.

Letitia James, the New York State attorney general, led a contingent of marchers.

Some children sat atop adults’ shoulders, enjoying a prime view of the floats. Older couples cheered and waved flags alongside giddy teenagers and even infants.

Kate Winnick and her 9-month-old son, Levi, were among them. The parade is a chance to show him early the diversity and acceptance of the community, she said.

“Pride at its core is political; it’s about effecting change,” she said.

Lola Fadulu reports on the New York City region for The Times. More about Lola Fadulu

Gaya Gupta is a reporter covering breaking news and a member of the 2023-24 Times Fellowship class, a program for journalists early in their careers. More about Gaya Gupta


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