STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE
LGBTQ Pride Shows in the South Bronx Queer residents of the borough express themselves on a beautiful Sunday BY MATT TRACY
rosswalks were painted in rainbow colors, large Rainbow Flags waved in the air, and LGBTQ residents in the Bronx were all smiles as they celebrated queer liberation on June 23 in the final borough-specific Pride event before the WorldPride March on June 30. The annual Bronx Pride festivities commenced with a late-morning rally near the Bronx County Courthouse followed by a march and an afternoon festival at 149th Street at Third Avenue, with live entertainment and booths lined with food vendors, shops, and local LGBTQ and community groups. The rally featured speeches by politicians including Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who spoke about the importance of fighting for LGBTQ rights but underscored the need for folks to allow queer people to lead on issues that most directly affect them. “What does the LGBT fight mean in a postmarriage equality world?” Ocasio-Cortez asked. “It means making PrEP free for all people. It means tackling the homeless crisis of our LGBT youth. It means making sure no human and no trans person ever dies again in custody. It means no one is denied a job because of their gender identity.” She added, “The only way we can do that is because of people like you on the front lines.” Other elected officials in attendance included Senator Chuck Schumer, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, and Councilmembers Andrew Cohen, Helen Rosenthal, and Vanessa L. Gibson. Bronx Councilmember Ritchie Torres, the first openly LGBTQ official in the borough’s history, did not attend. The borough president, while walking around the festival greeting attendees, stressed that Pride holds unique significance this year because of WorldPride and Stonewall 50. But even in celebration, he added that Pride serves as a reminder to the wider population — especially in the Bronx — that they must play a role as allies in advancing rights for the LGBTQ community. “We need to continue to educate the general public, but even our own family members,” said Diaz, whose father, Bronx Councilmember Ruben Diaz Sr., has repeatedly come under fire for his opposition to LGBTQ rights and for homophobic rhetoric. “We all still have family members who need to be open minded and accepting of the fact that love is love. We should not only do that of informing the general population, but have those conversations locally and
MAT T TRACY
A man holds a Rainbow Flag as he marches from the Grand Concourse to Third Avenue as part of Bronx Pride on June 23.
MAT T TRACY
East 149th Street is painted in rainbow colors at the entrance to the Bronx Pride Festival.
at home.” Diaz explained that government must also continue to do its part in standing up for queer rights and he said he was pleased to see that the State Legislature finally passed a ban on the gay and trans panic defense years after he introduced a version of the same bill during his time in the State Assembly. But in light of the recent death of Layleen Polanco, a trans woman of color, in custody of the Department of Correction, he also said, “We need to better protect those who are detained or detainees.” “The reason why we have to do events like this is because we know that while so much
progress has been made over the last 50 years, we’re still not perfect,” Diaz said. “There is still so much that needs to be done.” LGBTQ groups were visible at the booths sprawled out across the streets where the festival took place. The Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, a citywide LGBTQ political group, spent the day registering voters and spreading the word about queer causes facing voters in upcoming elections. “Stonewall has been a part of Bronx Pride for several years now and what is happening here
➤ BRONX PRIDE, continued on p.66 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
Gay City News issue for Stonewall 50/ WorldPride, June 27, 2019