Pride parades continue with new urgency across the United States


NEW YORK — Parades celebrating LGBTQ pride kick off in some of America’s biggest cities on Sunday amid renewed fears about the potential erosion of freedoms won over decades of activism.

The annual marches in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and elsewhere come just two days after a conservative Supreme Court justice signaled in an abortion ruling that the court should reconsider recognized same-sex marriage rights in 2015.

The warning shot came after a year of legislative defeats for the LGBTQ community, including the passage of laws in some states restricting discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity with children.


As anti-gay sentiments resurface, some are pushing for Pride parades to return to their roots — fewer street parties that span city blocks, more open marches for civil rights.

“It’s evolved from a statement of advocacy and protest to a celebration of gay life,” Sean Clarkin, 67, said of the annual New York parade while enjoying a drink recently at Julius’s, one of the oldest gay bars. in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.

As he recalls, the parade was once about defiance and struggle against an oppressive mainstream that viewed gays, lesbians and transgender people as unworthy outsiders.

“As satisfying and empowering as it was to now be accepted by the mainstream,” Clarkin said, “there was also something energizing and wonderful about being on the outside and looking within. .”

Dan Dimant, spokesperson for Heritage of Pride, the nonprofit organization that organizes the New York City parade, said this year’s march will always be festive, with floats and “people dancing and celebrating”.

“Pride is a lot of things to a lot of people. And to a lot of people it’s a protest. And to a lot of people it’s a party. We create experiences for members of our community to feel Pride and how it resonates with them,” Dimant said.

New York’s first Pride March, then called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, was held in 1970 to mark the first anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, a spontaneous street uprising sparked by a police raid on a Manhattan gay bar .

San Francisco’s first march took place in 1972 and has been held every year since, except for the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The celebrations are now global, taking place throughout the year in several countries, with many of the biggest parades taking place in June. One of the largest in the world, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, was held on June 19.

In the United States, this year’s celebrations are taking place against a backdrop of potential crisis.

In a Supreme Court ruling on Friday overturning the right to abortion, Justice Clarence Thomas said in a concurring opinion that the court should also reconsider its 2015 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage and a 2003 ruling striking down laws criminalizing childbirth. homosexual sex.

More than a dozen states have recently enacted laws that run counter to the interests of LGBTQ communities, including a law banning any mention of sexual orientation in school curricula in Florida and threats of lawsuits for parents who enable their children to obtain gender-affirming care in Texas. .

Several states have laws in place prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in team sports that coincide with the gender with which they identify.

According to an Anti-Defamation League survey released earlier this week, members of LGBTQ communities were more likely than any other group to experience harassment. Two-thirds of respondents said they had been harassed, with just over half saying the harassment resulted from their sexual orientation.

In recent years, schisms over how to commemorate Stonewall have opened up, spawning splinter group events intended to be more protest-oriented.

In New York City, the Queer Liberation March takes place alongside the traditional parade, billing itself as “the antidote to the corporate-infused, police- and politician-entangled parades that now dominate Pride celebrations.”

More of that spirit could rub off on the big parades this year, though many fans of the marches see them as a combination of activism and celebration.

New Yorker Vincent Maniscalco, 40, who has been married to her husband of five years, said he believed the marches were an opportunity to both highlight civil rights issues and bring together “individuals of all walks of life to celebrate their authentic selves, and I think the New York City Pride Parade does a great job of that.

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