NYC Pride, or Heritage of Pride, has rolled out a slate of grand marshals for this year’s annual Pride March, which will return to a fully in-person format for the first time since WorldPride stormed through the Big Apple in 2019.
This year’s march — slated to take place on June 26 at noon — will be led by five grand marshals: TV personality TS Madison, “Saturday Night Live” star Punkie Johnson, athlete and advocate Schuyler Bailar, activist and speaker Dominique Morgan, and attorney Chase Strangio of the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project, who has worked on prominent LGBTQ rights cases ranging from federal to state courts.
Bansri Manek, the director of the NYC Pride March, said the grand marshals embody this year’s theme, “Unapologetically Us,” which is intended to celebrate LGBTQ community members regardless of their respective backgrounds.
“At a time when LGBTQIA+ people are under increased attack, the NYC Pride March is a beacon of hope and community,” Manek said in a written statement. “[The grand marshals] have embraced their identities and used their platforms to help members of our community truly love and live their truth without fear or shame. They also exemplify the key themes of our Grand Marshal categories, including Trans Rights Champion, Social Justice Warrior, Behind-the-Scenes, Celebrated Luminary and Youth Activism.”
This year’s Pride March is returning on a larger scale despite an uptick in COVID-19 cases in New York City and the nation. The coronavirus pandemic prompted NYC Pride to host virtual marches the last two years, though last year’s festivities included a scaled-down in-person event. Even in a hybrid environment, last year’s festivities were dominated by NYC Pride’s announcement barring uniformed police officers from participating in the march through at least 2025.
While NYC Pride’s annual march pivoted to a virtual or hybrid format in recent years, the Reclaim Pride Coalition has drawn tens of thousands of people to the alternative Queer Liberation March. That event — which was first held in 2019 due in large part to frustration over Heritage of Pride’s ties to corporate sponsors and the police presence at the march — is scheduled to take place on the same day as the NYC Pride March. Last year’s Queer Liberation March was the largest one yet.
Among other plans, Heritage of Pride is also bringing Pride Island festivities back to an in-person format this year — this time on Governor’s Island. Papi Juice will lead the performances on Saturday and Kim Petras will be the headliner on Pride Sunday. DJ Eddie Martinez, DJ Dani Toro, and DJ Alex Chapman will also perform on Sunday.