NEW YORK: There were protests, rainbow flags and performances — it was LGBTQ Pride, after all.
But what was normally an outpouring on the streets of New York City looked a little different this year, thanks to social distancing rules required by the coronavirus.
With the city’s massive Pride parade canceled, Sunday’s performances were virtual, the flags flew in emptier than normal spaces and the protesters were masked.
The disruption caused by the virus would be an aggravation in any year, but particularly in this one, the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in New York City.
“It’s a great thing to see because the original Pride started with the civil rights movement,” Matthew Fischer said as he passed out hand sanitizer Sunday at Foley Square. “So we’re really going back to the roots of that and making sure we encompass everything that empowers people to be who they are.”
Fischer said it was important this year to show cooperation between the Black and LGBTQ communities, given the recent deaths of George Floyd and others that have sparked demonstrations against police brutality.
A number of people in the crowd at Foley Square held signs reading “All Black Lives Matter,” with a black fist surrounded by rainbow colors. Most wore masks, though some scrapped social distancing in favor of hugging friends. One man held a sign advertising free hugs.
The first Pride march, on June 28, 1970, was a marker of the Stonewall uprisings of the year before in New York City’s West Village that helped propel a global LGBTQ movement.
Initially called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, it looked much like the protests that have streamed through the streets of New York City daily in recent weeks over racial injustice. Marchers trooped to Central Park, chanting “Gay power!” and “Gay and proud!”
Cities around the world in subsequent years followed New York’s lead, hosting commemorative events.