NYC Pride March Canceled; Virtual Festivities in the Works

Members of the Gay Liberation Front, who reunited for Stonewall 50 last year, will not get an opportunity to march in person in New York City this year to mark five decades since they helped spearhead the first-ever Christopher Street Liberation March in 1970.
Matt Tracy

The New York City LGBTQ Pride March and all related in-person festivities from June 14 to June 28 have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, marking the first time the annual event will not go on as planned since the inaugural Christopher Street Liberation March 50 years ago in 1970.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on April 20 announced the cancelation of all non-essential permitted gatherings in the month of June, including the June 28 Pride march, the June 14 Puerto Rican Day Parade, and the June 7 Celebrate Israel. Heritage of Pride, which organizes the main Pride march and related events, immediately rolled out an announcement confirming that organizers worked closely with the de Blasio administration in the decision to scrap the in-person plans for Pride.

“New York City is the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ rights movement,” de Blasio said in a written statement. “We’ve come a long way since the first Christopher Street Liberation Day March 50 years ago, which is a testament to the bravery and resiliency of LGBTIA+ New Yorkers in the struggle for equality. While this pandemic prevents us from coming together to march, it will in no way stop us from celebrating the indelible contributions that the LGBTIA+ community has made to New York City or from recommitting ourselves to the fight for equal rights.”

Instead, HOP hinted at alternative initiatives and plans that will celebrate Pride in a different way. HOP plans to beef up its Pride Gives Back grant program intended to support programming at queer organizations in marginalized communities, while ABC7 is planning a “special NYC Pride programming event” in conjunction with HOP in June. In past year, the television station has broadcast several hours of the parade.

“As the days have passed, it has become more and more clear that even with a decline in the spread of COVID-19, large-scale events such as ours are unlikely to happen in the near future,” NYC Pride co-chair Maryanne Roberto Fine noted in a statement. “We understand that we need to reimagine NYC Pride events — and have already begun to do just that.”

HOP also plans to participate in a large-scale virtual Global Pride event on June 27 — one day before New York City’s Pride March was scheduled to take place. InterPride and the European Pride Organizers Association have taken the lead on organizing that event, which will feature music, speeches, and more.

New York City is the latest to scrap its original plans for Pride this year after a wave of cancelations emerged in recent weeks from metropolitan areas across the country and the world. Cities including Toronto, San Francisco, and Boston also canceled its Pride events outright, while Los Angeles and Washington, DC, have postponed Pride festivities for later dates.

During the time leading up to Pride’s cancelation, HOP remained quiet about the fate of the city’s Pride festivities in 2020, even after most other major US cities already announced cancelations and changes to their Pride plans.

Following the April 20 announcement, HOP did not respond to Gay City News’ question as to whether any an in-person Pride event could happen at some point in 2020, instead resending its original press release.

Such an in-person event was already in doubt, however. The cancelation of New York City’s Pride events was long anticipated due to the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus crisis on the five boroughs, where more than 130,000 confirmed cases have been tallied and the city’s death toll has been estimated at more than 13,000, with “probable” cases included.

Much of the city, including restaurants and all other non-essential businesses, remain shuttered with just over a month to go until the beginning of Pride Month. It remains unclear when the restrictions can be lifted, making it all but certain that the virus will maintain its grip on the city for the foreseeable future.

“We are a community that thrives when we are united,” David A. Correa, the interim executive director of Heritage of Pride, said in a written statement. “We may not fill the streets of New York City this year, but LGBTQIA+ people carry pride with them all year long. I have no doubt that we will be together again soon.”