(Reuters) – New York City will host 4 million visitors this week to celebrate World Pride for both a celebration of advancements in LGBTQ rights and a call to action in the face of anti-LGBTQ policies enacted by U.S. President Donald Trump.
New York has been designated the site for World Pride this year to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising on June 28, 1969. The annual gay pride parade on Sunday will coincide with parades in cities around the world.
The opening ceremony takes place on Wednesday with a benefit concert at a Brooklyn arena, and festivities conclude Sunday night with a concert on the Manhattan waterfront featuring Madonna.
The anniversary commemorates the moment when patrons of a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village called the Stonewall Inn rose up in defiance of police harassment, leading to a national and worldwide movement for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other queer people.
LGBTQ people will celebrate their many accomplishments toward equality in the five decades since, including winning the constitutional right to same-sex marriage through a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2015.
But advocates are also alarmed about losing those gains.
The Trump administration has banned transgender people from the U.S. military, cut funding for HIV and AIDS research, supported the right of medical providers and adoption agencies to deny services to LGBTQ people, and aborted plans to gather data about sexual orientation and gender identity in the 2020 census.
“I don’t know what we have to celebrate. Right now I would love to feel that I have more pride than I have at present,” said Larry Kramer, the playwright and founder of Act Up, which fights for AIDS research and legislation.
Despite advances in civil rights, 32 states lack non-discrimination protections against LGBTQ people, according to the Human Rights Campaign, and 1.1 million Americans and 37 million people worldwide live with HIV/AIDS, according to U.S. government statistics.
“Today our biggest problem is our inability to be united and to fight back in a strong way,” Kramer, 84, told Reuters in an interview.
Trump issued a statement of solidarity on June 1 to begin Pride Month, saying his administration has launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality, while rolling back protections at home.
“Trump alternates between saying we’ll be good to you and then dismantling all sorts of programs,” said Richard Wandel, a longtime gay rights activist.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta and Dan Fastenberg)