Neither the sweltering heat nor the Supreme Court could stop the Reclaim Pride Coalition’s Fourth Annual Queer Liberation March from taking over the streets of Manhattan on Pride Sunday in New York City.
Thousands of marchers, many of them seething with anger over the Supreme Court’s decisions overturning Roe v. Wade and a New York gun law, channeled their energy into action when they stepped off in lower Manhattan on June 26.
The Queer Liberation March was one of two main marches held in New York City on Pride Sunday, along with Heritage of Pride’s NYC Pride March. The Queer Liberation March was first held in 2019 in an effort to bring Pride back to its original roots after frustration brewed over the corporate and police presence at the main NYC Pride March. Reclaim Pride has continued to host an in-person march every year since 2019, while Heritage of Pride’s march returned to a fully in-person format this year for the first time since the pandemic arrived.
The Reclaim Pride Coalition started the day at the African Burial Ground, where individuals gathered for a somber ceremony paying tribute to ancestors and uplifting queer Black people. Folks then assembled at Foley Square and hosted pockets of smaller demonstrations before lining up to begin the march.
Given the timing, the Supreme Court was expected to be a key topic of the Queer Liberation March. But even before the Supreme Court officially handed down the decision, the Reclaim Pride Coalition planned on bringing bodily autonomy to the forefront of the march in response to the leaked draft of the abortion decision in early May. This year’s march was branded as the Queer Liberation March for Trans and BIPOC Freedom, Reproductive Justice, and Bodily Autonomy.
The fresh decision injected yet another dose of political energy into the march. One of the large banners unfurled at Foley Square said “BODILY AUTONOMY IS QUEER LIBERATION” and most of the signs held up throughout the march denounced the Supreme Court. There were also signs decorated with messages such as “SAY GAY” and “End Trans Detention.” Among those participating in the march were Gays Against Guns’ “Human Beings” — individuals who wear white and hold placards with pictures of people who have died due to gun violence.
As the crowd packed in, a steady drumbeat set the tone and marchers stepped off at Foley Square around 2 p.m. The march started south before shifting west along Chambers Street and north on Church Street. Folks then made their way up Sixth Avenue and turned east on West Fourth Street before concluding at a crowded Washington Square Park. The march ended rather smoothly this year after folks encountered issues with police at Washington Square Park in each of the last two years.
The Reclaim Pride Coalition’s organizers said the annual event gave individuals an opportunity to express themselves during a troubling moment for the nation.
“From the Honoring the Ancestors ceremony and the gathering in Foley Square to the march step-off and its progress through lower Manhattan, this year’s Queer Liberation March for Trans and BIPOC Freedom, Reproductive Justice, and Bodily Autonomy was a needed expression of both community and outrage at the state of our nation under this coterie of political operatives masquerading as a Supreme Court,” Reclaim Pride Coalition’s Jay W. Walker told Gay City News.
That kind of expression was also evident among spectators — including those from balconies above — as folks cheered on from the sidelines and waved Rainbow Flags in support.
“New York’s fierce, fabulous, and intersectional LGBTQIA2S+ immigrant, Black, Brown, Asian, and allied progressive, pro-reproductive justice, and trans-affirming communities and families amassed by the tens of thousands with love, unity, and strength of purpose, all of which will sustain them in the trying times ahead as we continue our struggle for liberation,” Walker added.