NEW YORK (AP) — Thousands of ebullient protesters danced to club music on the streets of New York City on Sunday as bubbles and confetti rained down, and other revelers from Toronto to San Francisco cheered at the grand crescendo of Pride Month.
New York’s boisterous crowd strolled and danced down Fifth Avenue to Greenwich Village, cheered and waved rainbow flags to commemorate it 1969 Stonewall Uprisingwhere a police raid on a gay bar sparked days of protests and launched the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.
While some cheered jubilantly, many were aware of the growth conservative counter-movementincluding new laws banning gender-based mentoring of transgender children.
“I try not to get too political, but when it’s actually about my community, I’m very, very upset and very hurt,” said Ve Cinder, a 22-year-old transgender woman who traveled from Pennsylvania. to take part in the largest Pride event in the country.
“I’m just scared for my future and for my trans siblings. I’m afraid of how this country judges human rights, basic human rights,” she said. “It’s crazy.”
Parades in New York, Chicago and San Francisco are among the events being hosted by around 400 Pride organizations across the US this year, with many focusing specifically on transgender people’s rights.
One of the great marshals of the New York City parade is non-binary activist AC Dumlao, chief of staff for Athlete Ally, a group that advocates for LGBTQ+ athletes.
“Promoting the trans community has always been at the core of our events and programs,” said Dan Dimant, a spokesperson for NYC Pride.
San Francisco Pride, another of the largest and most well-known LGBTQ+ celebrations in the United States, drew tens of thousands of spectators to the city on Sunday.
The event, created by group Dykes on Bikes, featured dozens of colorful floats, some carrying powerful messages against the wave of anti-transgender laws in state houses across the country.
Organizers told the San Francisco Chronicle that this year’s theme places an emphasis on activism. The parade also included that of the nation first drag award winner, D’Arcy Drollinger.
“When we go through the world in a more authentic and fabulous way, we inspire everyone.” drollinger said at a breakfast before the parade.
Along Market Street, Speaker Emeritus of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank were spotted driving together.
In Chicago, a brief downpour at the start of the parade did not deter parade-goers who sought shelter under awnings, trees and umbrellas.
“A little rain can’t stop us!” tweeted Brandon Johnson, the city’s newly elected mayor.
Chicago’s 52nd annual celebration on Sunday featured drag actresses Marilyn Doll Traid and Selena Peres and dancers Young Bud Billiken, who received rave reviews from the audience for representing the celebration of black roots on Chicago’s South Side.
Thousands of people also took to the streets in Houston on Saturday night to celebrate Pride marches and salute the LGBTQ+ community.
“Houston is a big, diverse family. Today is about celebrating people who are themselves, their authentic selves, and letting everyone know this is a city of love, not division, not hate,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
San Antonio also celebrated its Pride March on Saturday night, with hundreds of people lining downtown streets.
“This year’s theme is ‘Just Say Gay’. We care deeply about the current legislation, not just here in Texas, but also in other states across the United States that are trying to push us back into the background,” said Phillip Barcena, President of Pride San Antonio. said KSAT.
Also on Saturday, First Lady Jill Biden appeared at the Pride March in Nashville, Tennessee, where she told the crowd “loud and clear that you belong, that you are beautiful, that you are loved.”
Many other cities held their major events earlier this month, including Boston, which hosted the first parade after a three-year hiatus that began with COVID-19 but stretched into 2022 because the organization that used to run it disbanded, because she criticized that she excluded racial minorities and transgender people.
A key message this year was that LGBTQ+ communities are uniting against dozens, if not hundreds, of bills currently under consideration in state houses across the country.
Lawmakers in 20 states have decided to ban gender-based childcare and at least seven others are considering doing the same, adding urgency to the transgender community, their advocates say.
“We are under threat,” organizers of Pride events in New York, San Francisco and San Diego said in a statement, which was joined by about 50 other Pride organizations across the country. “The multiple dangers we face as the LGBTQ community and Pride organizers, while varying in nature and intensity, share one common trait: they are aimed at protecting our love, our identity, our freedom, our security and our undermining life.”
Earlier Sunday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law a bill that would make the state a “safe haven” for transgender youth and prohibit law enforcement from providing information regarding a child’s ability to receive gender-biased care receive, could undermine.
NYC Mayor Adams took a similar step this week, issuing an executive order barring city resources from being used to work with out-of-state agencies to incarcerate people who receive gender-based care in the city.
The Anti-Defamation League and GLAAD, a national LGBTQ+ organization, reported 101 anti-LGBTQ+ incidents in the first three weeks of this month, about double the number for the entire month of June last year.
Sarah Moore, who analyzes extremism for the two civil rights groups, said many of the incidents coincided with Pride events.
Still, Roz Gould Keith, who has a transgender son, is heartened by the increasing visibility of transgender people at marches and celebrations across the country.
“Ten years ago, when my son asked to go to Motor City Pride, there was nothing for the transgender community,” said Keith, founder and executive director of Stand with Trans, a group created to serve young transgender people and to support and strengthen their families.
This year, she said, the event was “packed” with transgender people.
AP writers Juan Lozano in Houston; Erin Hooley in Chicago; Trân Nguyễn in Sacramento, California; James Pollard of Columbia, South Carolina; Geoff Mulvihill of Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Trisha Ahmed of St. Paul, Minnesota and Susan Haigh of Hartford, Connecticut contributed to this report.