Reclaim Pride Coalition looks ahead to Queer Liberation March

Jay W. Walker delivers remarks at the Reclaim Pride Coalition's press conference on June 21, 2023
Jay W. Walker delivers remarks at the Reclaim Pride Coalition’s press conference on June 21, 2023
Donna Aceto

Leaders of the Reclaim Pride Coalition gathered at Christopher Park on June 21 to update the community ahead of Sunday’s fifth annual Queer Liberation March.

The Queer Liberation March — a grassroots alternative march held without permits, uniformed police officers, or corporations — is slated to take place on June 25, and it will likely resemble the Reclaim Pride Coalition’s marches in recent years. However, there will also be some new elements, including a designated area in the march and at the rally for people whose health needs require fully masked surroundings. This provides an opportunity for people to feel safer at a time when many individuals have stopped wearing masks in public spaces.

Among other points, organizers announced the return — for a third straight year — of a community health fair complete with sexual health and harm reduction resources. Treatment Action Group is spearheading the fair, which will also feature ACT UP NY, Research Enterprise to Advance a Cure for HIV (REACH), African Services Committee, Callen Lorde Community Health Center (which is also offering the mpox vaccine), Apicha Community Health Center, and Housing Works.

The community health fair will take place from noon to 5 p.m. on Thompson Street between Washington Square South and West Third Street.

Speakers at the press conference also stressed the importance of keeping each other safe at the Queer Liberation March, which has, on multiple occasions, ended with police harassment and arrests by the NYPD at the conclusion of the march. At the end of the 2020 Queer Liberation March, police officers unleashed pepper spray in a chaotic scene at Washington Square Park — and then there were arrests the following year after police allegedly moved in and again used pepper spray on individuals at the same park.

Speakers at the press conference particularly warned marchers about the NYPD’s Strategic Response Unit, which has a reputation for targeting people at demonstrations. Many have called for the Strategic Response Unit to be disbanded.

Jay W. Walker, a co-founder of the Queer Liberation March, said one reason why the Reclaim Pride Coalition does not seek permits for the annual march is because of past incidents by police.

“The NYPD has shown nothing but animosity and violence towards queer and trans protesters in this city,” Walker said.

Qween Jean speaks during a press conference ahead of the Queer Liberation March.
Qween Jean speaks during a press conference ahead of the Queer Liberation March.Donna Aceto

Qween Jean, a prominent activist who has led numerous Stonewall Protest events around the city and was arrested late last month, also voiced frustration about the way authorities have treated the community at events.

“We should not have to fight people who promised to protect and serve,” Qween Jean said.

The Reclaim Pride Coalition is starting Pride Sunday with a 2 p.m. rally at Foley Square. Marchers will step off at 3:30 and proceed through lower Manhattan before ending, yet again, at Washington Square Park.

The main NYC Pride March, produced by Heritage of Pride, will begin at 11 a.m. at 25th Street and Fifth Avenue.