Gay pride parades Sunday in New York, San Francisco and other U.S. cities are spotlighting resistance to what participants see as new pressure on gay rights, while contending with the prospect of protests over the events’ own diversity and direction.
In a year when leaders are anxious about President Donald Trump’s agenda, both the New York and San Francisco parades will be headed by groups more focused on protest than celebration. In New York, grand marshals — including the American Civil Liberties Union — were chosen to represent facets of a “resistance movement.”
LGBT activists have been galled by the Trump administration’s rollback of federal guidance advising school districts to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. The Republican president also broke from Democratic predecessor Barack Obama’s practice of issuing a proclamation in honour of Pride Month.
Revellers started to line up early Sunday for the march, waving rainbow flags. Kendall Bermudez, 21, from New Jersey, said she thought people might be afraid to come out this year.
‘We’re fighting back’
“But I think with all these people here, they’re going to show we’re fighting back and we’re proud of who we are,” she said. “I think we’re going to overcome it and show Trump who’s boss, well, who’s the real boss.”
Earlier Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state would continue to lead the way on equality — and Washington would eventually listen.
He said the state is “at the spearhead of the movement for social justice for the LGBT community.”
Cuomo, a Democrat, was speaking Sunday at a ceremony that formally appointed Paul G. Feinman to the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. Feinman is the first openly gay judge to hold the position.
Resistance from within
But the pride celebrations also face some resistance from within the LGBT world itself. Some activists feel the events are centred on gay white men and unconcerned with issues that matter particularly to minorities in the movement, such as economic inequality and policing.
The divide has disrupted some other pride events this month. The No Justice No Pride group blocked the Washington parade’s route, and four protesters were arrested at the parade in Columbus, Ohio.
In Minneapolis, organizers of Sunday’s Twin Cities Pride Parade initially asked the police department to limit its participation, with the chairwoman saying the sight of uniformed officers could foster “angst and tension and the feeling of unrest” after a suburban officer’s acquittal this month in the deadly shooting of Philando Castile, a black man, during a traffic stop.
The city’s openly gay police chief called the decision divisive and hurtful to LGBT officers. On Friday, organizers apologized and said the officers are welcome to march.
Steps taken to address criticism
Meanwhile, pride march organizers have taken steps to address the criticisms about diversity.
“The pride celebration is a platform for that dialogue to happen,” San Francisco Pride board president Michelle Meow said this week. The large “resistance contingent” leading San Francisco’s parade includes groups that represent women, immigrants, blacks and others along with LGBT people.
New York paradegoers Zhane Smith-Garris, 20, Olivia Rengifo, 19 and Sierra Dias, 20, all black women from New Jersey, said they didn’t feel there was inequality in the movement.
“Pride is for gay people in general,” Dias said.
New York City pride parade spokesman James Fallarino said if there are any disruptions or protests, organizers will “do everything in our power to respect the people who are disrupting or protesting and to respect their message.”