NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – New York City’s annual pride parade kicked off Sunday with glittering confetti, cheering crowds, waving rainbow flags and newfound fears about the loss of freedoms won by decades of activism.
The annual rallies in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and elsewhere take place just two days after one Conservative judge in the Supreme Court ruled in an abortion ruling that the court should reconsider the right to same-sex marriage recognized in 2015. . .
“We’re here to make a statement,” said 31-year-old Mercedes Sharpe, who traveled from Massachusetts to Manhattan. “I think it’s about making a point, rather than all the other years like how we normally celebrate it. This one is really going to stand out. I think a lot of angry people, not even just women, angry men, angry women. ”
Thousands of people – many adorned in proud colors – marched the parade route through Manhattan, cheering as rafts and marchers passed by.
The country’s highest court warning shot came after a year of legislative defeats for the LGBTQ community, including the adoption of laws in some states restricting the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity with children.
As anti-gay sentiments resurface, some are urging pride parades to return to their roots – fewer blocks of long street parties, more open civil rights marches.
“It went from a statement of advocacy and protest to much more of a celebration of gay life,” Sean Clarkin, 67, said of New York City’s annual parade while enjoying a drink at Julius’s, one of the oldest gay pubs. in Manhattan and Greenwich Village.
As he remembers things, the parade was once about defiance and pushing against an oppressive mainstream that saw gays, lesbians and transgender people as unworthy outsiders.
“As satisfying and empowering as it may be to be accepted by the mainstream now,” Clarkin said, “there was also something energetic and wonderful about being on the outside looking in.”
New York’s first Pride March, then known as the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, was held in 1970 to celebrate the first anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, a spontaneous street riot caused by a police raid on a gay bar. in Manhattan.
San Francisco’s first march was in 1972 and has been held every year since, except during the last two years of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Celebrations are now worldwide and take place throughout the year in several countries, with many of the biggest parades taking place in June. One of the world’s largest, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, was held on June 19.
In the United States, this year’s celebrations are taking place amid a potential crisis.
In a ruling by the Supreme Court on Friday that abolished the right to abortion, Judge Clarence Thomas said in a similar opinion that the court also upheld its 2015 decision to legalize same-sex marriage and a 2003 decision criminalizing gay sex laws , must reconsider.
“The recent overthrow of Roe v. Wade caused a very strong commotion over what happened. Other rights may be involved next, ”said Dean Jigarjian, 22, who crossed the New Jersey River with his girlfriend to take part in the New York City parade.
More than a dozen states have recently enacted laws that go against the interests of LGBTQ communities, including a law banning any mention of sexual orientation in school curricula in Florida and threats of prosecution for parents allowing their children to have sex-affirmative care in Texas to get .
Several states have enacted laws banning transgender athletes from participating in team sports that coincide with the gender in 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 were harassed, slightly more than half of them said the harassment was the result of their sexual orientation.
In recent years, rifts over how to commemorate Stonewall have opened up splinter groups’ opportunities meant to be more protest-oriented.
In New York, the Queer Liberation March takes place at the same time as the traditional parade, which presents itself as the “antidote to the corporate-infused, police-entangled, politician-heavy Parades that now dominate Pride celebrations.”
More of that spirit could be smeared on the big parades this year, though many fans of the marches see it as a combination of activism and celebration.
New Yorker Vincent Maniscalco, 40, who has been married to his husband for five years, said he thought the marches were an opportunity to shed light on civil rights issues and bring together individuals from all walks of life to bring their authentic selves together. four. And I think the New York City Pride Parade does a very excellent job with that.