Alternative March returns Pride to its roots

BY BOB KRASNER | It’s said that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it — but the Reclaim Pride Coalition, organizers of the Queer Liberation March, planned to do exactly that.

Fed up with what they call the corporate takeover of the Heritage of Pride March (the big one), they put together an alternative.

“It’s a march, not a parade,” explained photographer Dustin Pittman, who attended the first New York City gay-rights march in 1970. “This brings it back to its roots.”

“You matter,” read the banner of a celebrant at the Queer Liberation March. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

With no floats or corporate sponsorship, Sunday’s alternative march took the same route as the first, from Sheridan Square to Central Park. Enthusiasm and handmade signs were the hallmark of pretty much every group involved, from the artists with the Howl! Happening gallery to the Revolting Lesbians.

Songs were sung (“Which Side Are You On?”) and chants were heard (“Off the sidewalk! Into the streets!”) all the way along the route, from what activist lawyer Norman Siegel estimated were 40,000 participants by the time they reached the park.

Friends and employees of the East Village’s Howl! Happening gallery wearing T-shirts designed for the march by Scooter LaForge. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

“There are 15 times more people here than I expected!” exclaimed activist Gene Fedorko, who was also there in 1970. “The energy is magnificent,” he enthused. “I’ve been crying all morning.”

Gay rights were just part of the agenda, as placards proclaimed the fight against all forms of injustice, including subjects such as abortion, ICE, sex workers, the N.R.A., white supremacy, Black Lives Matter, the rights of the incarcerated and even hairstyle appropriation.

“Stop stealing our haircuts,” read one lesbian’s sign.

(Photo by Bob Krasner)

The day culminated with a rally on the Great Lawn, a mix of comedy, political messaging and music. Organizer Leslie Cagan explained that the alternative march’s $200,000 budget was raised from foundation grants, fundraisers and personal donations.

“We were committed to making it a community event,” Cagan said.

Volunteers were also part of the equation, including the many who stayed behind to help clean up, as a result of a request from the stage.

(Photo by Bob Krasner)

Entertainment provided by BETTY, Justin Vivian Bond, John Cameron Mitchell and Kevin Aviance was balanced by the impassioned speeches of Cecilia Gentili and Larry Kramer, among others.

Kramer, the legendary playwright and AIDS activist, had a sobering message for the crowd.

“I’m approaching my end, but I still have a few years of fight in me,” he said.

Performance artist Brent Ray Fraser spread the love around at the firehouse on W. 10th St. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

These days, he noted, he is fighting against those who are spending their time looking for drugs and sex, rather than fighting to “make our world a better place.”

“I love being gay, I love my people,” he said. “Please give me something to be proud of again, in these dark and dangerous days.”

Steven Melendez, left, and Brent Ray Fraser, right, had previously marched in the Heritage of Pride event. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

 

Veteran gay-rights activist Randy Wicker was in the Queer Liberation March. Wicker was a participant in the historic 1966 “sip-in” at Julius’ bar and later, in the 1990s, became an advocate for gay cloning as a way for gay men to have children. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

(Photo by Bob Krasner)

Echoing the original first Pride March, the marchers — shown above on Sixth Ave. — shared the street with regular traffic until they reached Midtown. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo by Bob Krasner)

(Photo by Bob Krasner)

Clockwise from top left, activist Gene Fedorko, activist/artist/writer Sur Rodney Sur and artist Joel Handorff. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

(Photo by Bob Krasner)

Photographer Eva Mueller. (Photo by Bob Krasnser)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo by Bob Krasner)

(Photo by Bob Krasner)

(Photo by Bob Krasner)

(Photo by Bob Krasner)

(Photo by Bob Krasner)

Larry Kramer, seated in wheelchair, with, from left, organizer/stage manager Jackie Rudin, David Webster, Kramer’s husband, and Rollerena, the legendary roller-skating drag queen. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

Downtown favorite BETTY performed. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

Singer Justin Vivian Bond, left, and Nath Ann Carrera were a dynamic duo. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

(Photo by Bob Krasner)

Transgender activist Cecilia Gentili gave an impassioned speech that touched on the plights of sex workers and incarcerated individuals, among others. To the left of her is LaLa Zannell, also a transgender activist. Both helped organize the event. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

(Photo by Bob Krasner)

(Photo by Bob Krasner)

 

John Kelly — in a Howl T-shirt designed by Scooter LaForge — holding a sign for Marsha P. Johnson, gay-liberation activist and self-identified drag queen. Known as an outspoken advocate for gay rights, Johnson was one of the prominent figures at the Stonewall Uprising of 1969. Mayor de Blasio plans to install a statue of her and fellow trans icon Sylvia Rivera in the Village at Greenwich and Sixth Aves. (Photo by Bob Krasner)

6 Responses to Alternative March returns Pride to its roots

  1. What fabulous photos of such a stellar event and some of my very favorite people are in them. Bless you, Jackie Rudin, for your energy and love and Bob Krasner's photos are always wonderful.

  2. Elitism Fighter

    And what is it you love so much about Communism?

  3. Thank you for bringing to light this alternative march and the reasons behind it. Wonderful photos and text by Bob Krasner.

  4. THIS! This is what I used to go to when attending a Pride Parade! Love this! Thank you for publishing.

  5. Great photos and documentation of this event. Kudos to Bob Krasner.

  6. I'm gay and I can't recognize anything in those empty slogans. "don't steal my haircut"? "thank god for abortion"?
    "black lives matter"? wtf.
    What does it all have in common with being gay?
    It's more an affirmation of identity politics which are destroying the country by putting people against one another simply because.
    Gay is only a small part of who we are. Like blue eyes or obesity. Nothing more. Nothing less.
    No need to spread hate against humanity for that.

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