Get ready for New York City Pride Month! The excitement is palpable, as Pride Month returns in June with a plethora of live parades and festivals across the five boroughs.
This year, New York City will host over 15 different LGBTQ+ Pride events, including the Brooklyn Pride Night Parade on June 11 and Harlem Pride on June 25.
The LGBTQ+ community organized the first NYC Pride Parade in 1970 to commemorate the events of the Stonewall Uprising in 1960, which helped start the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.
NYC Pride Month’s theme this year is “Unapologetically Us” to drive that home. “It really is all about people in the community gathering together to look at all that has been done–and still needs to be done,” said GMHC’s community relations director, Krishna Stone, who coordinates the agency’s participation in Pride Month activities.
More than 50 years later, there has been significant progress, but LGBTQ+ people continue to face homophobia, transphobia, stigma, racism, and discrimination. “Rates of HIV infection continue to disproportionately affect Black and Latinx gay and bisexual men, and transwomen of color,” Stone said.
“There is a lot of energy out there right now about hatred for LGBTQ+ people and women,” she added, particularly the increases in violence against transgender and Black people–and the looming specter of losing legal abortion and other human rights altogether.
Pride Month is a time to raise awareness and speak out, she said. “It’s about LGBTQ+ people and allies joining together to say: We’re not going to stand for this.”
GMHC has joined in NYC Pride events ever since the agency’s founding in 1982. GMHC staff, clients, board members. and volunteers march in Pride parades with allies to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community’s contributions. During the June events, the agency also provides free HIV and STI testing, and hosts information tables to raise awareness of GMHC’s services and programs for people living with HIV and AIDS.
Stone said one of her best Pride memories was serving as a Grand Marshal in 2017 for the New York City Pride March. “It was an extraordinary honor,” she said. Stone even has a “Grand Marshal” tattoo to commemorate the occasion.
Stone also has wonderful memories from serving as an announcer for the NYC Pride March for over two decades. Both a march and a festival, they are New York City’s largest Pride events and two of the largest in the country.
From stages along the route, the volunteer announcers call out the different contingents of walkers as they parade by. “It’s like unconditionally loving hundreds of thousands of people for six hours. It’s extraordinary,” she said.
“I would try to be affirming to just about every contingent that goes by,” Stone said, making sure to recognize community groups such as the Ali Forney Center, which provides services to LGBTQ+ young people experiencing homelessness.
“It’s very emotional. I’d be so moved by what I was watching,” Stone said. “When GMHC’s contingent would go by, I would just well up into tears.”
“We have to keep fighting,” Stone concluded. “And while we fight, we celebrate.”
If you would like to join GMHC for Pride Month, email firstname.lastname@example.org.