Mix history, party in San Fran. and NYC Pride
June 22, 2012 | 1:00 pm
(Updated: June 19, 2012 | 12:51 pm)
On opposite coasts with thousands of miles between them, two of America’s high-profile Pride festivals weave amusement with activism; history with entertainment. This year’s Pride celebrations in San Francisco and New York City wave the banner of LGBT equality in a tradition they’ve carried since 1970, and at the same time draw visitors from far and wide to the party.
A thread connecting Pride celebrations nationwide is their timing – almost all in the month of June. It’s no coincidence – the first gay pride marches were organized in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago on June 28, 1970, commemorating the Stonewall Riots – a gay uprising in Manhattan – of June 1969. The events triggered new LGBT rights organizations and publications across the country, finally bringing gay rights to the public eye.
Holding to tradition for more than 40 years, Pride celebrations in New York and San Francisco have expanded beyond marches into multiple day events that honor the allies, activists and ordinary folks in the gay community, celebrating the wonderful diversity and joy that the LGBT community has to offer.
The San Francisco Pride Celebration has evolved in just 40 short years from a small march and “Gay-In” on June 28, 1970 to the biggest LGBT gathering in the nation. Expanding its audience from 200 to 1 million participants, the San Francisco Pride Celebration Parade’s Grand Marshals have included Harvey Milk and Sir Ian McKellen. Lady Gaga and the Backstreet boys have graced the festival’s main stage at San Francisco’s Civic Center, steps away from City Hall where Harvey Milk addressed pride-goers 30 years ago. Pulsing with historical importance and a celebratory attitude, the organizers of the San Fran Pride understand the importance of balance – this year’s event, June 23-24, is themed “Global Equality,” to help spread awareness of global LGBT issues and prevent HIV discrimination.
Coinciding with the San Fransisco festivities is New York City’s Pride, spanning a lengthy eight days this June 16-24. Like the first “Gay-In” in San Francisco, the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee sponsored New York City’s first Pride march on June 28, 1970. Expanding through the decades, New York City’s pride includes a rally, Family Movie Night and Pride march. Held June 16, the rally is to be the official kick-off of this year’s festivities, but the main message will be to remind those in attendance just how far New York’s LGBT movement has progressed from the first Rally of 500 people in 1969. This year’s New York City Pride will be the first since same-sex marriages began taking place in the state on July 24 last year.
This year, lesbian comedienne Fortune Feimster will emcee the rally and Cyndi Lauper will Grand Marshal the Pride march. The march celebrates those lost to AIDS.
For the wild attendees of NYC’s Pride, parties will be held throughout the week with opportunities to mix and mingle, including the annual VIP Pride Rooftop Party on the Hudson Terrace and the women-centered Rapture on the River.
Separated by thousands of miles – an entire nation embroiled in debate over LGBT equality – the San Francisco and New York City Pride celebrations include common themes of community, commemoration and fun. Born of the fighting spirit of gay liberation, they promise to fight for future rights and to celebrate the various – and growing – accomplishments the LGBT community has achieved since.