Manhattan will soon be home to a memorial honoring the victims of the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando and other hate crimes, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Sunday before walking in the Pride March.
He was briefly accompanied by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Clinton made a surprise appearance at the annual celebration of LGBT rights and culture, stepping off not far from the landmark Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village and marching for two blocks.
The former secretary of state elicited deafening cheers and repeated chants of “Hil-la-ry” from revelers craning to catch a glimpse of her.
Cuomo and de Blasio both serve as delegates for Clinton but the rival Democrats spent most of the parade apart.
The march is the first in New York City since a gunman killed 49 people June 12 in Orlando. The mood was more somber than past parades that have come amid such events as the U.S. Supreme Court ruling making same-sex marriage a nationwide right.
“This is not really a celebration, but there is an intensity and a solidarity,” the governor observed at the start of the parade route in midtown. He added of the fight for LGBT rights, “This is a movement. It’s not always smooth and sometimes it’s in fits and starts, and we’ve made a lot of progress.”
De Blasio a couple blocks away said the city is showing its colors as a place of inclusion and tolerance.
“This one will not only be a celebration of love, it will be a rejection of hate,” he said. “This parade is New York City saying defiantly, ‘We will stand up to hatred. We will stand up to those who would try to undermine our values. We believe in a society for everyone.’”
The mayor marched in the parade alongside civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton and openly gay actress Cynthia Nixon.
Cuomo earlier in the day signed an executive order at the LGBT Community Center near Union Square, launching a commission of 10 experts to explore options for a memorial to the victims of the Orlando attack.
He said the state would spend up to $1 million and the three potential sites are Christopher Park, Hudson River Park or Battery Park City “in the gaze of the Statue of Liberty.”
Christopher Park is across the street from the Stonewall Inn, which President Barack Obama last week named the nation’s first national monument to LGBT rights. The tavern is widely recognized for helping to spark the modern gay rights movement.
The governor Sunday named it an official state historic site.
Terry DeCarlo, executive director of the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida, said his region is still in the recovery process but is feeling the support from New Yorkers.
Dozens of lawmakers at the local, state and federal levels participated in the parade, pointing to victories for LGBT causes and the need to carry on while commemorating the Orlando victims.
City Council Member Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) was among those who called for stronger gun control laws.
He marched with a group that wore shirts and bore banners with the slogan, “Gays against guns.”