Put Your Money Where Your Rainbow Is: NYC’s First Queer Liberation March and Rally
After concerns over commercialization and over-policing at the NYCWorld Pride parade, the city had its first Queer Liberation March and Rally on June 30.
As an alternative to the Heritage of Pride Parade, the Reclaim Pride Coalition organized the event last Sunday.
According to the Reclaim Pride Coalition, the Queer Liberation March and Rally exists to “honor the legacy of Queer Liberation struggles- past and present, to demand liberation by resisting continued forms of oppression, and to celebrate the hard - fought gains won through Queer resistance.”
While both events, the Heritage of Pride parade and the Queer Liberation March and Rally, take place on the last Sunday in June and honor the legacy of the Stonewall Rebellion, the NYCWorld Pride parade and the Queer Liberation March and Rally have some major differences.
In the parade, participants must register to walk ahead of time, and have over one hundred sponsored corporate floats. The Queer Liberation March and Rally encourages participants to walk at any time during the event and prohibits all corporate floats.
The Reclaim Pride Coalition also organized two moments of silence throughout the day, one at 11 am and the second at 2 pm. The first moment is meant to honor those whose lives have been affected by homophobia, transphobia, racism and sexism, HIV/AIDS and to violence in all its forms. The second pays tribute to trans women of color who lost their lives and those while incarcerated or by police.
Native New Yorker Tiffany Jackson has been attending Pride since 2013.
“For me, Pride has always been about togetherness, and unleashing all the gaiety that one wouldn’t be allowed to express everyday. I do, however, think when you think about its origins it has lost a lot of the activism that started it,” Jackson said.
Thousands turned out and participated in the Queer Liberation March on Sunday, which also had a rally at the Great Lawn in Central Park.
King’s alum and first time pride attendee, Holly Thomas pins the increase in Pride advertisements and merchandise this year on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. She believes the parade has yet to lose its original purpose.
“I think that combination made a corporate monster that I’m hoping will tone down for future Pride celebrations. It’s supposed to be a celebration and a signifier of the fight that needs to continue, not an advertisement. I’m really glad the Queer Liberation March happened though to remind people of this in the midst of corporate chaos. All of it is a part of Pride so it hasn’t fully been sucked dry of meaning and purpose,” Thomas said.
King’s senior Edison Cummings says people should be focusing on what constitutes failure advocacy, referencing the mishaps of sponsors and politicians in the parade.
“I think Pride has certainly gotten more commercial- no one’s saying it hasn’t. The question becomes ‘is this what we want pride to be?’ It’s a really special time for LGBTQ+ folk and allies to reflect on our past struggles and successes…. On the other hand, I don’t think that the Heritage of Pride parade is innocent of wrongdoing. While they and NYCPride are responsible for making #Stonewall50 a global event, they do not seem as concerned for the track record of those in the parade,” Cummings said. “Google, for example, has always dragged its feet in removing hateful content from YouTube, thus making it a harmful space for LGBTQ creators... Many more examples exist, and they come as no surprise.”
Many have also raised concerns over major sponsored organizations such as Adidas. Last year, Adidas released Pride-themed merchandise, but remained a sponsor for the FIFA World Cup in Russia, which still has several strict anti-LGBTQ laws.
Other Pride sponsors include Citibank, NBC, Delta and Deutsche Bank- each having hundreds of marchers in the parade.
King’s alum Dino Matinaos says his concerns lean less on commercialization and more on Pride losing its original purpose.
“I’m not sure that the commercialization is completely bad though. To me, it’s a signal that the culture war over gay marriage has been won in the United States. However, I think it has altered the purpose of Pride to be more like a big party with all kinds of corporate sponsors instead of fighting for and declaring equality for queer people.” Matinaos said. “As a gay man, seeing the rainbows everywhere in June makes me feel a little bit safer and welcomed as I move through the world. At the same time, trans women of color are still being murdered regularly because of their identity, so I think responding to this new, corporate rainbow landscape with complacency is dangerous and wrong.”
The organizers of the Queer Liberation March and Rally have not officially confirmed if there will be another march and rally in 2020.