Central PA's LGBT News Source


LGBTQ Activists ‘Reclaim Pride’


With the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, this year’s Pride celebrations are being ramped up.

In New York City, the influx of tourists for WorldPride 2019, hosted by Heritage of Pride (HOP), has prompted activists to present an alternative: The Queer Liberation March. The Reclaim Pride Coalition (RPC), comprised of 100 organizations and thousands of individuals, have planned their own June 30th march—one they feel is more in keeping with our communities’ tradition of resistance against police, state and societal oppression.

“We want to be a Pride March for the people,” said RPC organizer Ann Northrup. “Everyone can march freely and openly, with no contingents or order of march, just a freeform parade of people expressing themselves with signs and banners.” 

Northrup held firm to the mandate against corporate floats and uniformed police officers, saying “they never apologized for Stonewall or the countless things they have done to our community since.”

The Queer Liberation March will largely hew to the route of the 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day March. Although the NYPD denied a formal permit, they worked with RPC to allow the march to move forward. Marchers will assemble at 9:30 a.m. on Seventh Avenue near The Stonewall Inn. Marchers step off at 10 a.m. down W. 10th Street, hang a quick right to Sixth Avenue, then march up to Central Park. A crowd will join uptown at Bryant Park.

“There have been various parade routes throughout the years, but certainly the first one ran from Sheridan Square to Central Park, and that’s exactly the route we applied for,” said Northrup. “It’s long, but people can hop in at any point.” 

Plans must be finalized before the Parks Department will issue a permit, but once marchers reach Central Park, they’ll head to either the Great Lawn or the Bandshell area for the rally.

“We have not sorted out who the celebrities will be yet,” said Northrup. “There will be performers and speakers, a good mix of people. It’s political but there will be some entertainment as well.”

A New Pride for A New Community

Plans for the Queer Liberation March have attracted LGBTQs who no longer feel the mainstream HOP march represents their interests or identity. Transwoman Robin Scott attended an RPC meeting after friends said they were seeking a graphic designer. Scott donated her time to make posters, having done Pride designs for Equality New York several years prior.

“The truth is, I found the group to be a powerful revolutionary community,” said Scott, now RPC’s lead designer. “It’s a progressive organization with people into activism and the New York Pride community. And it’s neat to be around folks who remember the first march, being rounded up by the police for daring to go into the street, back when all of this was still a riot.”

When they wanted a design capturing the bold, aggressive, revolutionary spirit of the ‘70s, Scott created palm cards, banners, and posters using the same Pantone 212C pink Act Up used on their legendary 1985 Silence=Death poster.

“It looks really great, and it sets us apart from the many rainbows of Pride,” said Scott. “It’s a distinct visual.”

While support from corporations may have been validating in the past, many view their continued participation in Pride celebrations as merely “an advertising vehicle, a cheap venue, and a little moral credibility by being part of it,” as Northrup put it.

Said Michael Musto, columnist for NewNowNext.com, “Corporate endorsement of our community is fine, but it sometimes leaves us plagued with questions like, ‘What took you so long? Are you pro queer all year long or just one day a year? And will your money and clout supplant some of the grassroots community on a day that's supposed to be about our visibility?’ Reclaim Pride is a wonderful antidote to all of this, as well as a return to grassroots activism and an urgent fight for human rights.”

Northrup appreciates when major corporations speak against anti-LGBT legislation, but “that doesn’t mean we turn over the whole parade to them.”

Scott recalled proudly donning rainbow gear and roller-blading in the HOP parade—and she also remembers why she stopped. Two years ago, she tried to march with suicide prevention group The Trevor Project, but instead stood for four hours behind a Chipotle float.

“We never even stepped off; we were just stuck behind all the corporate floats,” said Scott.

Many were disgusted when the HOP parade barred individuals from marching, while selling spots up front to corporations, so “they’ll be featured on the local broadcasts their money pays for, essentially buying TV time,” said Northrup.

With 550 contingents and 100 floats, the behemoth HOP parade has become untenable for many. Community organizations are relegated to the back of the six-hour procession. The added attraction of WorldPride makes this year’s event larger than usual.

“You can talk to anyone in New York and they’ll say, ‘I hate that parade so much, it’s such a mess, it doesn't move, it’s discouraging and so corporate,’” said Northrup. “For Stonewall 50, we have to take this parade back to its roots, and create something with values that’s not just another meaningless party.”

Neither is Northrup thrilled about WorldPride, which she called “cheeky and political” when held during the Vatican’s Jubilee, but has since become, “just another circuit party.” Still, she had nothing negative to say about HOP organizers, and encouraged people to attend both.

“We all want something to march for, something to fight for. And I’m humbled to be a part of something I think will be as culturally important as that first march,” echoed Scott. “What’s going to happen on June 30this monumental. I think our march is going to be THE march, maybe even the last year they have the HOP march—not that any of us is tearing them down. But we are still being crushed by bigotry, fascism, and capitalism. Liberation is the next step. It’s time to come out and be part of the revolution.”