New York City Pride Was Back to its Former Glory

By LGBT+ Advancing Archives
Cover image for  article: New York City Pride Was Back to its Former Glory

After two years of scaled-back parades and virtual events, New York City Pride came back full force on Sunday, with the annual Pride Parade at its colorful center. Corporate businesses and non-profit organizations alike had spectacular floats in the parade, which made its way down 5th Avenue in Manhattan with music, confetti cannons, celebrity appearances and Pride-themed swag being tossed into the crowds that lined the entire route. Several MediaVillage member companies -- including Ampersand, Hearst (pictured below), Disney, Comcast and NBCUniversal -- had a presence in the parade, celebrating and sharing in the happiness of the day. As the parade made its way downtown and onto Christopher Street, the birthplace of NYC Pride, the darkness emanating from the Supreme Court of the United States was certainly on everybody's mind, but it didn't compromise this celebration of queer joy and love.

One of my favorite floats was by the Trevor Project, an organization that provides suicide and crisis intervention services to LGBTQ+ youth. On the float was advocate and ally Michael Cimino, star of Hulu's Love, Victor, along with actor Nicholas Hamilton, best known for his role in the recent IT horror franchise. Another was the bright yellow Playbill float (below), lined with Pride-themed Playbills all around the edge from some of Broadway’s biggest shows. Broadway stars Frankie Grande (Titanique), Antwayn Hopper (A Strange Loop), and J. Harrison Ghee (the upcoming Some Like It Hot) were featured on the float, along with cast members of Wicked, Six: The Musical, Chicago and Moulin Rouge!

Even major sports brands and organizations like the NFL, the NBA and Fanduel had double-decker busses decked out in rainbow logos and showing their advocacy for LGBTQ+ team members and fans alike, with slogans like "Ball Is For All" (on the NBA Pride bus, pictured above). Reality star Jujubee from VH1's RuPaul's Drag Race was on her very own float (pictured below) promoting her upcoming dating show podcast, a first of its kind, Queen of Hearts from Wondery.

The last in-person Pride event I attended, and the last full-scale celebration to hit the streets of New York City, was in 2019 with World Pride, by far the biggest celebration in the event’s history with an estimated five million attendees. World Pride commemorated the 50th anniversary of the historic 1969 Stonewall Uprising, and after a nearly entirely virtual 2020 Pride and scaled back parade in 2021, this year’s celebration certainly felt even more joyous, signaling that we can safely celebrate together as a community once again.

There have been complaints in recent years about how commercialized and corporate Pride month has become, with many companies incorporating rainbow logos on June 1 and quickly removing them by July 1 -- and doing very little beyond that to openly support their queer employees, customers or fan bases.

However, there are many companies that do make a year-round effort to highlight their LGBTQ+ team members, create initiatives to spotlight queer content, and/or donate a portion of proceeds to organizations like the Trevor Project or the Ali Forney Center, which assists homeless LGBTQ+ youth. (You can watch interviews with executives from many of those companies by our own Dr. Kryss Shane over at our LGBT+ Advancing platform.)

Fifty-three years to the date since the Stonewall Uprising, Pride has gone from protest and a demand for change to a celebration of those changes and the accomplishments in civil rights, freedom of expression and identity and being allowed to unabashedly be oneself, without remorse, shame or fear of being arrested for just being who we truly are. But while we celebrate the progress that has been made for and by the LGBTQ+ community, it's important to remind ourselves of how far we still have to go and remember the origins of Pride was as a protest and a fight for civil rights.

Photos by Juan Ayala.

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