Celebrations mingled with displays of resistance Sunday as LGBTQ+ pride parades filled streets in some of the country’s largest cities in annual events that have become part party, part protest.
In New York, thousands marched down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue to Greenwich Village, cheering and waving rainbow flags to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall uprising, where a police raid on a gay bar triggered days of protests and launched a movement for LGBTQ+ rights.
While some people whooped it up in celebration, many were mindful of the growing conservative countermovement to limit rights, including by banning gender-affirming care for transgender children.
“I’m not trying not to be very heavily political, but when it does target my community, I get very, very annoyed and very hurt,” said Ve Cinder, a 22-year-old transgender woman who traveled from Pennsylvania to take part in the country’s largest pride event.
“I’m just, like, scared for my future and for my trans siblings. I’m frightened of how this country has looked at human rights, basic human rights,” she said. “It’s crazy.”
Parades in New York, Chicago and San Francisco are among events that roughly 400 Pride organizations across the U.S. are holding this year, with many focused specifically on the rights of transgender people.
In Chicago, 16-year-old Maisy McDonough painted rainbow colors over her eyes and on her face for her first Pride Parade.
She told the Chicago Tribune she’s excited to “be united” after a tough year for the community.
”We really need the love of this parade,” she said.
Entertainers and activists, drag performers and transgender advocates are among the parade grand marshals embracing a unity message as new laws targeting the LGBTQ+ community take effect in several U.S. states.
“The platform will be elevated, and we’ll see communities across the country show their unity and solidarity through these events,” said Ron deHarte, co-president for the U.S. Association of Prides.
Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver and Seattle are scheduled to hold pride parades Sunday. At the parade in Toronto, Canada, more than 100 groups are expected to march. In New York City, seven-time Grammy winner Christina Aguilera will headline a post-march concert in Brooklyn.
Annual observations have spread to other cities and grown to welcome bisexual, transgender and queer people, as well as other groups.
About a decade ago, when her 13-year-old child first wanted to be called a boy, Roz Gould Keith sought help. She found little to assist her family in navigating the transition. They attended a Pride parade in the Detroit area, but saw little transgender representation.
This year, she is heartened by the increased visibility of transgender people at marches and celebrations across the country this month.
“Ten years ago, when my son asked to go to Motor City Pride, there was nothing for the trans community,” said Keith, founder and executive director of Stand with Trans, a group formed to support and empower young transgender people and their families.
This year, she said, the event was “jam-packed” with transgender people.
One of the grand marshals of New York City’s parade is nonbinary activist AC Dumlao, chief of staff for Athlete Ally, a group that advocates on behalf of LGBTQ+ athletes.
“Uplifting the trans community has always been at the core of our events and programming,” said Dan Dimant, a spokesperson for NYC Pride.
Many of this year’s parades called for LGBTQ+ communities to unite against dozens, if not hundreds, of legislative bills now under consideration in statehouses across the country.
Lawmakers in 20 states have moved to ban gender-affirming care for children, and at least seven more are considering doing the same, adding increased urgency for the transgender community, its advocates say.
“We are under threat,” Pride event organizers in New York, San Francisco and San Diego said in a statement joined by about 50 other Pride organizations nationwide. “The diverse dangers we are facing as an LGBTQ community and Pride organizers, while differing in nature and intensity, share a common trait: they seek to undermine our love, our identity, our freedom, our safety, and our lives.”
Some parades, including the event in Chicago, planned beefed up security amid the upheaval.
The Anti-Defamation League and GLAAD, a national LGBTQ+ organization, found 101 anti-LGBTQ+ incidents in the first three weeks of this month, about twice as many as in the full month of June last year.
Sarah Moore, who analyzes extremism for the two civil rights groups, said many of the June incidents coincide with Pride events.