I joined in at the Queer Liberation March this year, attending the protest instead of NYC WorldPride. My heart, at the same time, was filled to the brim and…as I walked home, broken once again.
Pride month has long left us. Happily richer, the corporations have since painted over the rainbows they were sporting, leaving the queer community with the same guarded white walls we’re used to having thrown up in our face.
However, the love, power, passion, and anger of the LGBTQIA+ community lives on.
This year, my fiancé and I attended the Queer Liberation march. We both have a bit of a sordid history with Pride parades, but knew we wanted to be in New York City in commemoration of the 50thanniversary of the Stonewall Riots. We weren’t sure how we were going to show up to honor our community’s history in a way that felt right.
…Then the Queer Liberation March popped up. Meant to be a people’s march to reclaim Pride, it was a counter-march to the Parade that sported no corporate floats or police presence. What other way is there to honor Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major, Stormé DeLarverie, Larry Kramer, the Mattachine Society, the Daughters of Bilitis, Frank Kameny, the Gay Liberation Front, Et All? What other way is there to commemorate an anti-police riot that lasted days after our rights had been violated so deeply and so unwaveringly?
We met up with a friend in Bryant Park to join the March at its mid-way point. The energy just in the park itself was electric. Throngs of people dressed in both black, pink, and gold (the colors of the march) as well as bright, fantastic outfits. It felt like every single person in the park had a purpose – and in a lot of ways, perhaps that is true. Each and every person who showed up to the Queer Liberation March made a purposeful decision to attend the March instead of the Parade. Therefore, each person’s body became a powerful statement against the corporatization and pink-washing of Pride. Each person purposefully became a part of a new wave of the continued street presence of Queer protest and riots. By making the choice to be here, just a few blocks away from there, they became a part of a grand testament to the strength and resilience of queer activism. No one was there because it was “fun”. No one was there because it was something to do. No one was there because they were being paid to be there. Everybody was there because they knew they needed to be.