From Stonewall to Pridefest

Posted by Emma Brownstein
(@Emma Brownstein)

Across the nation and world, June is a season of celebration. No school, beach days, and, pride month, of course. New York City Pride has grown into a weeklong festival dedicated to galvanizing the LGBTQ+ community. It is full of joy, parties and, well, pride, but also seeks to commemorate the Stonewall Riots and the darker history of the Gay Rights movement that started in The City.


After a series of police raids in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar on Christopher street, members of the gay community fought back, rioting in the streets for nights on end, marking the start of the LGBTQ+ rights movement and what would later be known as the Stonewall Riots.

A year after the riots in June of 1970, members of the community united for the first march ever, then called Christopher Street Liberation day.

christopher street liberation day
Photo by: Greenwhich Village History

After ten years of marches, each one growing in number and notoriety, and the murder of Harvey Milk, the first ever National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights took place, bringing LGBTQ+ issues into the national conversation. While there would be minimal immediate progress, it was an important step in the movement, creating momentum and building unification. Years later, in 2004, Massachusetts passed the first laws legalizing gay marriage, the start of the progress that lead to national legalization in 2015

Meanwhile, in 1984, The Heritage of Pride was founded which took over planning and organizing the the Christopher Street Festival, and renamed it Pridefest in 1993. The Heritage of Pride is still organizing Pridefest today, and in true progressive spirit, 2017 Pride is predicted to be the biggest celebration yet.

What to Expect at 2017 Pride

The Heritage of Pride acknowledges that everyone is different and that every individual has their own relationship with pride. For that reason, they offer a wide spectrum of events that can suit everyone while still relating to this year’s theme, “We Are Proud.”

Pride-Island, a three day music festival and cultural experience on Pier 26, features artists ranging from iconic soul singers to modern DJs and indie bands. Musicians include Deborah Cox, DJ Lina, Patti Labelle, Tegan and Sara, Occupy the Disco, DJ Scott Martin, Nelly Furtado and many more.

pride island
Photo by: Heritage of Pride

While smaller events include politically charged rallies, family movie nights, and rooftop dance parties, the largest, most publicized events are Pridefest and The March, which both are on Sunday, June 25th.

Pridefest is a street fair, featuring LeAnn Rimes, that draws in thousands of celebrators. As for The March, fifth Avenue from 36th to Christopher Street will be covered in rainbows, celebration and many, many marchers. In 2016 there were over 350 contingents represented in the parade, plus over 80 floats, and it’s only growing larger.

While it is a celebration of individuality, it hasn’t lost it’s demonstrative roots. The March also serves as a reminder of the past, including recognizing those who are fighting aids or who have passed due to violence against the LGBTQ+ community.

the march
Photo by: The Heritage of Pride

This is the first year that the parade will be televised live, and can be seen on ABC7 from 12-3. If you want more information about the events of the 2017 Pridefest, check out The Heritage of Pride’s website.

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