Thousands march to Battery Park in sixth annual Queer Liberation March

The Reclaim Pride Coalition's Queer Liberation March banner.
The Reclaim Pride Coalition’s Queer Liberation March banner.
Donna Aceto

Thousands of marchers joined the Reclaim Pride Coalition’s Queer Liberation March in lower Manhattan on Pride Sunday in a display of support for trans youth, racial justice, and Palestinian freedom.

The June 30 march represented the sixth annual edition of the Queer Liberation March, which is one of two key marches in New York City on Pride Sunday along with the NYC Pride March. The Queer Liberation March continued its tradition of barring corporations and police in the march, which was first held in 2019 when activists sought to return to the roots of Pride.

This year’s route took on a different path than in the past when it concluded in Washington Square Park on multiple occasions. This year’s march started late in the morning at Sheridan Square and moved south on Seventh Avenue before shifting east on Spring Street and south again along Broadway. It briefly diverted away from Broadway, passed by Foley Square, and returned south along Broadway until it concluded in the area around Battery Park against the backdrop of the Statue of Liberty.

Waving the Rainbow Flag high above the march.
Waving the Rainbow Flag high above the march.Donna Aceto

The decision to conclude the march within eyesight of the Statue of Liberty was planned earlier this year by organizers who underscored the symbolic nature of ending it at a statue that the Reclaim Pride Coalition described as “an enduring symbol of the ever-present need to continue striving toward the ideals of ‘Liberty and Justice For All.'”

The 2024 Queer Liberation March, on a humid and overcast day, appeared to be somewhat smaller than in some previous years when it was, at times, the only in-person march on Pride Sunday due to the COVID-19 pandemic when Heritage of Pride’s NYC Pride March went virtual. Nonetheless, thousands of marchers sprawled out along the streets of Manhattan as they made their way to the south in front of more than a dozen NYPD vehicles trailing the march.

This year’s event was formally labeled as the Queer Liberation March for Black, Brown, Queer, Trans, Gender Non-Conforming, and Non-Binary Youth and Against War and Genocide. Support for the Palestinian cause was at the forefront of the march, with many signs and chants bringing attention to queer Palestinians under siege in Gaza, as well as people facing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Ukraine, and other places around the globe.

Other themes were also prevalent at the march, including calls to support transgender youth at a time when at least half of US states have passed laws criminalizing gender-affirming care — especially for trans youth. Housing Works, a non-profit combatting HIV/AIDS and homelessness, led a banner that read “Fighting for BIPOC Queer Youth.”

Many other organizations were also represented, such as the activist group Gays Against Guns; Starbucks Workers United, a worker-led organizing effort; Rude Mechanical Orchestra, a radical protest marching band; and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which works to improve access to affirming social, health, and legal services for transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming individuals. There were chants and shirts paying tribute to the late Cecilia Gentili, a beloved and influential trans activist who died on Feb. 6 at the age of 52.

Housing Works puts the focus on trans youth.
Housing Works puts the focus on trans youth.Donna Aceto

Sam Penix, a trans man, marched with Middle Church and carried his 13-year-old dog, Ginny, who was covered in a Trans Flag.

“I came out to the Queer Liberation March because I was looking for a way to celebrate Pride and our culture,” Penix explained to Gay City News. “I didn’t want to go the Heritage of Pride [March] because it’s too commercial and it basically worships empire over our queer united struggle. Pride was a riot and was a push in the direction of freedom for LGBTQ people, and so I wanted a march that would have embodied a more revolutionary love.”

Another individual, Zaedyn, has attended New York City Pride since 2017 but never experienced the Queer Liberation March until this year.

“It’s a really fun excuse to party at [Pride],” Zaedyn said. “But also there’s a lot of weight to it. There are a lot more reasons for celebrating queerness than just to have fun. But it’s also OK to just have fun.”

See some photos below:

Paying tribute to the late Cecilia Gentili.
Paying tribute to the late Cecilia Gentili.Donna Aceto
Housing Works' banner.
Housing Works’ banner.Donna Aceto
Batata New York delivers the street beat.
Batata New York brings the street beat.Donna Aceto
The Freedom Socialist Party's contingent.
The Freedom Socialist Party’s contingent.Donna Aceto
Qween Jean speaks out.
Qween Jean speaks out.Donna Aceto
Showing support for trans lives.
Priorities!Donna Aceto
Queer Liberation March organizer Jay W. Walker.
Queer Liberation March organizer Jay W. Walker.Donna Aceto
The Queer Liberation March's signs show the themes of this year's march.
The Queer Liberation March’s signs show the themes of this year’s march.Donna Aceto
Standing together.
Standing together.Donna Aceto
Participants near the end of the march at Battery Park.
Participants near the end of the march at Battery Park.Donna Aceto