News & Opinion

New York City’s first ever queer liberation march showed a new-old way to feel pride

June 30, 2019

The first ever Queer Liberation March drew thousands of marchers to New York City’s streets and Central Park to protest police and corporations’ presence on the main parade.

Video by Tasia Jensen


There was excitement in the air as marchers gathered just south of the Stonewall Inn on Sunday morning for the first ever Queer Liberation March, organized by the Reclaim Pride Coalition.

This was the anti-Pride Pride, with an express rejection of corporations and police involvement, although the police stood on the sidewalks as this was a large-scale, New York City parade.

The idea was to reclaim Pride and channel the anger and spontaneity of the Stonewall Riots, whose 50th anniversary are being marked this year. It was also taking place the day of the massive, and very corporation-heavy, World Pride parade, which was taking place on different streets a few hours later.

The route aped the first ever Christopher Street Liberation Day March of 1970, held a year after the Stonewall Riots, going down West 10th Street and then on to Sixth Avenue, all the way to Central Park, with a noticeable swelling of numbers when it reached Bryant Park. Anyone could join the parade, and the range and diversity of ethnicities, ages, and genders was very apparent.

There were many placards for the group Gays Against Guns, and condemnatory shouts for the NRA. There were pro-choice protesters and placards in remembrance of iconic activists like Marsha P. Johnson, Harvey Milk, and Bayard Rustin. The mood was very much one of an old-school, inclusive Pride march, with protest and intersectionality the focus alongside a sense of community camaraderie and focus.

Marchers who spoke to The Daily Beast were elated at the feeling of the march, its purpose, and apparent success.

On the Great Lawn of Central Park at march’s end, a rally took place. There, speakers included veteran activist, author, and playwright Larry Kramer, who beseeched the assembled to involve themselves in activism and protest to make him feel “proud” again.