Pride is protest, and LGBTQ+ New Yorkers channeled that radical spirit for 2021.
This past weekend, thousands of people flooded the streets of Manhattan for a number of community-led, cop- and corporation-free actions, including the 29th annual New York City Dyke March on Saturday (June 26), a Stonewall Protests rally and march on Sunday (June 27), and the third annual Queer Liberation March on Sunday. Demonstrators rallied around a variety of causes, chanting messages of support for LGBTQ+ sex workers, Black LGBTQ+ people, and transgender youth.
Mask-less gatherings of this scale weren’t safe before the COVID-19 vaccine became widely available in early 2021, so this year’s demonstrations were especially jubilant, radical roots and all.
These grassroots actions were a stark contrast to the city-sanctioned, highly corporatized NYC Pride events organized by Heritage of Pride. Most of the organization’s events were still virtual this year due to the pandemic, according to CBS New York.
As NewNowNext previously reported, Heritage of Pride has come under renewed fire in recent years for allowing police officers to participate in Pride festivities, which many LGBTQ+ people view as antithetical to Pride’s anti-establishment roots. After all, Pride as we know it is only possible because of an uprising against a violent police raid on NYC’s Stonewall Inn in 1969.
“A-C-A-B! All cops are bastards!” pic.twitter.com/mWQrc12c3H
— Jason Rosenberg (@mynameisjro) June 27, 2021
Thousands of people at the @queermarch.
Marching. Chanting. Singing.
No police in sight.
— Abby Stein (@AbbyChavaStein) June 27, 2021
Heritage of Pride announced in May that it is “taking steps” to reduce the presence of cops at its event. But many LGBTQ+ people, including the organizers from the Reclaim Pride Coalition (RPC), the group behind the Queer Liberation March, have said it is too little, too late. In fact, NYPD officers reportedly confronted peaceful demonstrators at the Queer Liberation March for the second year in a row. The officers deployed pepper spray, and at least seven protestors were arrested.
“Pride was born out of police attacking the queer community and the revolution was and is led by Black trans women,” tweeted drag performer and nonbinary activist Marti G. Cummings in response to the news. “The police need to stand back and let people celebrate Pride.”
Still, Pride ’21 was a true show of what community looks like. Scroll through the epic images below to see what we mean.