Millions gather in New York City to celebrate pride, progress and persistence

Antionette Lee
July 01, 2019 - 7:50 am
Part of the NYC Pride March moves past the Stonewall Inn in New York's Greenwich Village.

Theo Wargo/Getty images

Categories: 

NEW YORK (KYW Newsradio) — Hundreds of thousands of people carried signs, banners and balloons in New York City's annual Pride March on Sunday, a celebration this year of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which many consider to be the spark that ignited a nationwide LGBTQ rights movement. 

This year, New York was also the host city for WorldPride, an international celebration of LGBTQ progress. 

Related:

Philadelphia played its part in the march with its own float, "The Road to Stonewall," sponsored by Visit Philly and hosting pioneers like John James, who worked in the early days of the LGBTQ rights movements. He took part in one of the first Philadelphia gay rights demonstrations in 1965, four years before Stonewall.

"There are a number of people out there committed to doing the right thing when things are discouraging in the world today," he said. "It’s good to see so much momentum behind something positive."

And the momentum was there on Sunday, as millions of New Yorkers and visitors from around the world turned the city's streets into a rainbow-colored party, celebrating love, equality and most of all progress. There was much to celebrate, but also much to keep fighting for.

Gay rights pioneer Randolph Wicker, 81, reflected on the past, pre-Stonewall, and how far LGBTQ rights have come.

"My message is that they are very lucky. When I came out ... in 1958, we were criminals in every state but Illinois. We couldn't legally buy a drink. There were no legal gay bars," he said. "You could be fired from your job."

In fact, in many states, people can still be fired from their job for being LGBT. Hence, the message of NYC Pride this year was "progress and persistence."

"If we can mobilize and everybody can come together under this umbrella, I'm hopnig that we can all support more freedoms for more people and the liberation of all people," said Justin Omar. "Because until all of us are free, none of are free, as Dr. King said."

Gino Diangelo summed up the theme, saying, "Don't think you've already made it. Keep fighting, and keep fighting for everyone else."