You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Pride March, which brings together thousands of the city’s LGBT community, was just a giant party. But this annual public celebration of diversity is a platform for the social and political issues facing people who have only recently begun to have cause to celebrate, says Chris Frederick, managing director of NYC Pride.
Last summer saw the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, which had limited the definition of marriage to heterosexual unions, and Frederick praised the progress that’s been made since then in gaining recognition for gay marriage around the country. But he also points out that equality remains far off.
“Our theme for this year is We Have Won When We’re One, and it speaks volumes on how far we have to go for full equality,” Frederick says. “It was a nice move for DOMA to fall, but we can’t forget all of the others across the United States and around the world that don’t have full equality.”
Even as several states have overturned anti-gay marriage laws, LGBT rights have eroded worldwide in countries like Russia, Uganda and Brunei.
The continued pursuit of equality means events like the Pride March remain highly relevant, Frederick says. “We will continue to call it a march until equality has been gained for all. Up until now, that isn’t the case.”
The other important reason for the march is that LGBT youth need this kind of event to explore and embrace their identity. “There will always be that 16-year-old kid that is attending this event for the very first time, and you really can’t quantify that impact these events have on someone. It’s really important to know that the first time, that first experience, forever changes one’s being,” Frederick says.
“It allows them to realize they’re part of something much larger than they anticipated, feeling that they belong to something, that they’re connected to someone on a much larger scale.”
But the event holds excitement even for someone who’s participated in many marches. Though the focus is on celebrating the LGBT community, Frederick himself has a special reason to look forward to this year’s event.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to see Demi Lovato at our Dance on the Pier event,” he laughs.
Since the first march was held in 1970, this event has been an annual “civil rights demonstration,” over the years adding AIDS awareness and remembering victims of violence. In 2013, more than 300 groups took part and 50 floats paraded down Fifth Avenue. This year’s Grand Marshals are Laverne Cox, Rea Carey and Jonathan Groff. Get a spot well before the revelers set off at noon on Sunday from 36th Street.