We may never know who threw the first brick outside the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village in the wee hours of June 28, 1969.
Was it a young white man from the Midwest (as suggested in “Stonewall,” a 2015 film that prompted boycott petitions launched by the Gay-Straight Alliance Network of school students and MoveOn.org under accusations of “whitewashing” the real history) or the transgender women of color who’ve been increasingly recognized as the first to fight back that night?
Either way, the patrons of that private club, who clashed with police during a raid ostensibly for selling liquor without a permit, helped catalyze the modern movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex and asexual rights (LGBTQIA) in the United States and beyond.
Fifty years later, cities across the globe are gearing up for Pride events to celebrate civil rights victories won, push for greater equality and party down with friends.
“If the poison is shame, the antidote is pride,” says Ed Salvato, paraphrasing activists who pioneered the modern gay rights movement.
These queer pioneers, as Salvato, chief content officer of Man About World, an app-based mobile gay travel magazine, explains, realized that despite not yet having political power, they could choose to be themselves, proudly, without bending to society’s expectations.
This objective gave birth to Pride with a capital P.
In the five decades since, a new emphasis on inclusivity has changed the public face of the LGBTQIA movement, highlighting the diversity of communities who, through a mélange of parties and politics, have been fighting for equal rights all along.
Always a major Pride destination, the Big Apple will become an even bigger global draw this year as the site of the first US-based WorldPride with 50+ events over a span of 30 days, from June 1 to June 30, 2019, dubbed Stonewall50.
Organizers expect more than 3 million people will attend the scores of lectures, rallies and parties, both free and ticketed. Following the kick-off Garden Party on June 24 to benefit the LGBT Community Center, a Human Rights Conference will bring together activists, artists, educators, writers, political figures, and other top thinkers on June 24 and 25.
Other events include: Pride Island, a two-day music festival on Pier 97 in Hudson River Park with headliner Grace Jones; a “graphic art, anime, and manga-inspired costume party for all nerdy members of the LGBTQ+ community” called Cosplay & Pride; the Chelsea Challenge ice hockey tournament; Femme Fatale, the “official rooftop party for women”; and four days of Gay & Sober Pride events, including workshops, presentations, meetings, and activities.
To commemorate the Stonewall Uprising and the first “Gay Power” demonstration in NYC held in 1969 a month later that brought together 500 people, NYC Pride is hosting Rally, a civil rights demonstration to speak out against the human rights abuses of today, on Friday, June 28, 2019.
Culminating the month of festivities, the infamous Pride March kicks off on Sunday, June 30th at noon, featuring more than 550 marching contingents and over 100 floats.
Registration to join the march has already closed, but taking in the spectacle from the sidelines is open, and free—unless you’d prefer to pay $200 for the March Grandstand, which includes premium, stadium-style seating, VIP restrooms and refreshments. (Never underestimate the value of easy bathroom access in NYC—especially when the streets are as mobbed as they get during Pride!)