celebrate LGBTQ pride parades with new urgency

Participants shout during the 51st LGBTQ Pride Parade, Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Chicago.  (AP Photo/Jon Durr)

LGBTQ pride parades kicked off Sunday in New York City and across the United States with glittering confetti, cheering crowds, rainbow flags and a renewed fear of losing freedoms won over decades of activism.

The annual marches in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and other cities came just two days after a conservative Supreme Court justice suggested the court should also reconsider gay marriage rights, recognized in 2015.

“We are here to make a manifesto,” said Mercedes Sharpe, 31, who traveled to Manhattan from Massachusetts.

“I think it’s about pointing something out, unlike every other year, like we normally celebrate. This one will really turn heads. I think there will be a lot of angry people, not just women, but angry men and angry women.”

Thousands of people — many dressed in the colors of pride — walked the parade route through Manhattan, cheering as the floats and participants passed by. Organizers announced this weekend that a contingent from Planned Parenthood would be leading the parade.

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the Supreme Court ruling a “momentary setback,” calling Sunday’s events “an opportunity for us to not only celebrate pride, but be determined to fight back.”

Participants shout during the 51st LGBTQ Pride Parade, Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jon Durr)

“We will not live in a world, not in my city, where our rights are taken away or rolled back,” said Lightfoot, Chicago’s first openly gay mayor and the first black woman to serve.

In San Francisco, some protesters and spectators carried signs condemning the court’s decision on abortion.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, riding in a convertible with a hammer and a rainbow fan, said the turnout was an acknowledgment that Americans support gay rights.

“Even though the majority of the court is against our Constitution, our country knows and loves our LGBTQI+ community,” Pelosi told KGO-TV.

The warning from the country’s highest court came after a year of legislative defeats for the LGBTQ community, including the passage of laws in some states that limit discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity with children.

With anti-gay sentiments resurgent, some are pushing to return the parades to their roots: fewer street parties and more civil rights marches.

“It’s gone from being a statement of activism and protest to more of a celebration of gay life,” Sean Clark, 67, said of New York’s annual parade while enjoying a drink recently at Julius’, one of the older gay bars in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood.

Clark remembers when the parade was a march of defiance and rejection of an oppressive society that viewed gays, lesbians and transgender people as worthless and alien.

“As satisfying and exhilarating as it is now to be accepted by the mainstream … there was also something exciting and wonderful about being on the outside looking in,” he said.

New York’s first LGBTQ pride march, then called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, was held in 1970 to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, a spontaneous street riot sparked by a police raid on a gay bar. from Manhattan.

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