The World Celebrates Pride and Stonewall50 in New York City

Rainbows adorned faces, flags, storefronts and subway trains Sunday morning as what felt like everyone in the city flocked to 26thStreet and 5thAvenue in NYC to line the streets and get ready for the Pride March — held 50 years after the first brick was thrown at the Stonewall riots. 

 Every storefront on the Pride route had a pride flag hanging, marketed a pride advertisement or showcased some of their pride-edition merchandise to celebrate Stonewall50, WorldPride and the 2019 NYC Pride Parade. 

Jimmy Pitingolo came to pride with his friends to experience the LGBT community — something he says he doesn’t get to do as often as he’d like.

“I came to pride because I’m gay and I wanted to celebrate and see where people are at,” Pitingolo said. “I don’t get to experience the community that often so I’m here to experience it in full flight.”

All weekend the energy was high as all the favorite gay and lesbian bars had lines out the door most of the night. Days-long festivals and impromptu celebrity appearances dazzled visitors across the city. 

The entire month of June was packed full of Pride-sponsored events in the city, but this weekend offered the most, ensuring that the thousands of national and international visitors who came for the 50thanniversary of Stonewall and WorldPride would have plenty to do. Visitors couldn’t hope to attend every event happening throughout the city, no matter how much iced coffee they were running on.  

On the day of the march, crowds in the thousands occupied every sidewalk and storefront as they watched the parade, starting with a motorcycle police escort that gave way to marching contingents from different states and countries, LGBT organizations, members of the original Stonewall riots, grand marshals from POSE, advocates and much more. 

There were nearly 600 marching groups in the parade, many representing nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups. Many community heroes were recognized including Flemington Borough, NJ mayor Betsy Driver, Founder of the Initiative for Improved Male Health Oliver Anene, Team USA athlete and founder of Christ Mosier and many more. 

 Two blocks over from the parade route was the pride festival, a gathering of vendors and performers in a stretch of blocked-off streets. Flocks of people squeezed between vendor tents as they tried on rainbow tank tops and grabbed for free samples and made their way to the main stage. 

Television and fashion personality E.J. Johnson hosted the festival on the main stage, and the event was headlined by rapper Princess Nokia — who has empowered the LGBT community through her art, live performances and musical recordings. 

Isaac Diskin, a straight ally, chose WorldPride and Stonewall50 to be his first-ever pride to support his friends.

 “I came to pride because I have a lot of gay friends and they invited me so I’m here to support them and check out the event,” Diskin said. 

He continued, “To me pride means acceptance and being able to express who you are and being in a place where you are not feeling oppressed. That’s exactly what this whole event is about. That’s what this whole month is about.” 

The pride parade, festival, and entire city of New York were filled with people as different as the colors of the rainbow for this historic event. The crowds were astounding and the traffic was daunting, but the spirit of pride could be found from parties to storefronts and from protests to history lessons.

The 50thanniversary of the Stonewall riots remind us that our community has come from struggle and conquered. Today’s celebrations show us that we have come so far. 

“Pride means celebrating who you are, not worrying about who you could be, but becoming who you want to be,” Pitingolo said. “It’s about having a good time and meeting people with the same mindset as you, realizing that it doesn’t matter who you are, you can appreciate those around you.”