The 51st annual Pride Parade in the Big Apple was a virtual celebration for the second year in a row Sunday — bringing a renewed focus to black members of the LBGTQIA+ community.
“Pride for me is about how we work in earnest to truly include all of us across the spectrum of identities in our struggle for freedom and liberation,” said actor Wilson Cruz, one of the parade’s Grand Marshals, in a pre-recorded video aired during the event.
“When we elevate more voices, we will create a fuller picture of who we actually are. I can’t separate the movement for black lives from the pride movement. In my mind and experience, they are inextricably linked.”
The three-hour event was live streamed on ABC News and included a host of interviews with transgender, black activists and nonprofit leaders who support black and queer New Yorkers, as well as a series of musical performances and some limited street-side marching.
“I think it’s beautiful that we get to celebrate but I also love that we are uncovering more of our history so we are paying homage to all of our beautiful trans-cestors … they all live through us,” said Raquel Willis, a transgender writer and activist and the former national organizer for the Transgender Law Center.
“I really believe that we all can make a commitment to social justice and I just want to humanize the fact that it’s a journey for all of us.”
The celebration included performances from “Supernova” crooner Kat Cunning and Big Freedia — a black queer rapper who sang her hit song “Platinum” while sporting a rainbow cape and a sparkling, silver jumpsuit.
Five Grand Marshals were selected to lead the parade, including Cruz, activist Ceyenne Doroshow and Menaka Guruswamy, a senior advocate with the Supreme Court of India who helped overturn a law that criminalized same-sex relationships.
Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s HIV/AIDs director, and Aaron Rose Philip, the first black, transgender and physically disabled model to ever be represented by a major agency, were also Grand Marshals.
For the last three years, members of the Reclaim Pride Coalition have tried to move away from the large annual parade and provide an alternative option in the Queer Liberation March that seeks to bring the event back to its roots and away from its bevy of corporate sponsors.
That march, which was held in-person, kicked off at 3 p.m. at Bryant Park and bills itself as the “antidote to the corporate-infused, police-entangled, politician-heavy Parades that now dominate Pride celebrations in a grotesque expression of societal forms of marginalization and oppression for Queer and Trans people.”
Video of the event posted to social media shows thousands of rainbow-clad marchers flooding Seventh Avenue in Manhattan with a few banners, signs and not a float in sight.
“Down with rainbow capitalism,” one sign read.
“Queers for socialist revolution!”