Heritage of Pride, the non-profit organization that plans and produces New York City’s official LGBT Pride events, has promised to make a decision in the next week as to whether it will permit the resistance to be represented at this year’s march.
At a heated meeting at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in the West Village, New York-based activist groups Gays Against Guns and Rise and Resist once again urged Heritage of Pride to feature the resistance as a Grand Marshall in the march, in response to the Trump administration’s anti-LGBTQ policies, as well as numerous Republican bills aimed at stripping the community of its rights.
“At a time when many of us are under siege…we feel that the current situation in Washington requires us to take a stand, not just for our rights, but for the rights of Muslims, immigrants and for any group that is going to get left behind by the current government in Washington. We want to make sure we set the tone for the entire world,” said a demonstrator from the floor.
Last week, the same group of demonstrators crashed a general meeting of Heritage of Pride to petition the committee to follow the lead of LA, which cancelled its annual march in favor of a protest.
While Heritage Pride said it agreed with the spirit of the resistance, organizers cited a number of concerns including policing, overcrowding, safety of fellow marchers and preserving the parade as a celebration.
Demonstrators say the march could incorporate both resistance and celebratory aspects but organizers fear this will create a “two-tiered” event.
“Our march is now almost eight hours long, and there is some concern from the team that if we put everything resist at the front of the march, we will have two marches, one that is just a protest and then four hours of floats and groups that cannot or will not be part of resist for whatever reason,” said an unnamed member of Heritage of Pride.
The group is also hesitant to cancel the march in favor of a protest, as the corporate sponsorship money that the Heritage of Pride receives helps to fund other Pride events throughout the year, as well as local LGBTQ non-profits.
With the Pride march already at capacity, Heritage of Pride says the NYPD is putting pressure on them to end the march on time, which makes it logistically difficult to incorporate the thousands of people and resistance organizations that may show up to protest.
Nonetheless, demonstrators say the march should honor its roots as a civil rights movement, and reflect the state of affairs in Washington.
“The reason we feel the LGBT resistance should be included, and not just included but at the front and center of this march, the largest civil rights march in the world, is simply that…the LGBT community is under attack,” said Ken Kidd, an activist from Rise and Resist.
Tempers flared as the demonstrators pressed the committee for a response. Heritage of Pride agreed to make a decision in the next week.
“Heritage of Pride as an organization is committed to coming up with a solution that works,” said Sue Doster, strategic planning director of NYC Pride. “In all honesty, our current march route is at capacity, you can’t add another half a million people to that parade route and have it safe for everyone attending the event. I don’t think everyone is going to get want they want,” Doster added.