Tens of thousands of marchers took to Fifth Avenue on Sunday for the annual NYC Pride March, celebrating with a sea of rainbows, glitter and LGBTQ flags, as crowds packed several people deep cheered them on.
Spectators waved the signature rainbow flags and cheered as waves of marchers passed, heading from 36th Street down to Christopher and Greenwich streets. Pride favorites “Dancing Queen” and “Born This Way” blasted from speakers on floats as more than 350 organizations marched down toward the West Village’s historic Stonewall Inn.
“I just want to support everyone and how they feel,” said Jessica Jordan, 25, of Bellmore, who got up at 6 a.m. to decorate her face with a butterfly and glitter. “Love is love, whatever it is. Do your thing.”
The mood was mostly jovial, with the crowds near 23rd Street cheering marchers, police officers on bikes and politicians. However, a total of 12 people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after they sat down in the street in front of the Stonewall Inn, police said.
Jersey City resident Luis Cabato, 58, of has been attending the parade since the ’90s.
“This is such an important space, it’s about being comfortable with who you are,” he said. “It’s incredible to see how much it’s grown and all the support.”
Several politicians, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Charles Schumer, marched on Sunday, garnering loud cheers from the festive crowd.
Cuomo, who on Sunday unveiled the design for a Hudson River Park memorial for victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, said New York is a progressive voice for the nation.
“When New York speaks, it’s still one of the greatest microphones in the country,” Cuomo said, standing with Judge Paul Feinman, the first openly gay judge assigned to New York’s highest court. Later, while marching in the parade, he added: “At a time when this nation is getting angrier, more fearful and is talking about building walls, New York is going to accept more people.”
Looking ahead, Cuomo said the state will host the largest international pride parade in 2019, one way in which New York will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. An I LOVE NY LGBT Welcome Center is also planned for the city in the weeks surrounding the commemoration.
As temperatures climbed Sunday afternoon, revelers could be spotted fanning themselves and wearing T-shirts draped over their heads to guard from the sun. But that didn’t stop Ralph Baldassarri, 75, who came to support his openly gay son, holding a rainbow colored sign with the words “Gay Pride; Respect” written on it.
“[I came] to show him how much love I really have for him,” said the elder Baldassarri, of Carmel, N.Y. “I never expressed it properly in the past.”
His son, 51-year-old Chelsea resident Peter Baldassarri, said he was amazed at the sign his father brought.
“It feels great and amazing, I’ve been waiting 51 years for this,” he said. “With my father, it means everything. Our relationship has gotten better over the years, but we’ve had rocky roads. When he showed up with his sign I totally lost it.”
Openly-gay Staten Island resident Christina Cabarello, 32, came with her 4-year-old nephew, Lorenzo, and said it was important for him to understand what being gay means.
“It’s not always about loving another woman or man. We’re free to love ourselves for who we are,” she said. “We’re able to be out here and represent who we are and what we believe.”
Some participants took the opportunity to make a political statement, with about 50 veiled individuals dressed in white marching with the organization Gays Against Guns carried pictures with stories of those killed by gun violence. Several dozen others held a banner that read, “There are no queer friendly cops.”