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50 years of LGBTQ pride showcased in protests and parades

50 years of LGBTQ pride showcased in protests and parades
People participate in the New York Pride March on Sunday in New York City. The march marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan on June 28, 1969. (Kena Betancur / Getty Images)

Crowds gathered outside New York’s historic Stonewall Inn on Sunday to celebrate five decades of LGBTQ pride, marking the 50th anniversary of the police raid that sparked the modern-day gay rights movement.

More than 2,000 people gathered outside the bar where patrons resisted a police raid on June 28, 1969. Thousands also turned out for a larger parade that packed Fifth Avenue, where rainbows were on display on flags, T-shirts and more.

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Eraina Clay, 63, of suburban New Rochelle, came to celebrate the anniversary.

“I think that we should be able to say we’ve been here for so long, and so many people are gay that everybody should be able to have the chance to enjoy their lives and be who they are,” Clay said. “I have a family. I raised kids. I’m just like everybody else.”

Alyssa Christianson, 29, of New York City, said she was concerned that the movement could suffer setbacks during the Trump administration, which has moved to revoke newly won healthcare protections for transgender people, restrict their presence in the military and withdraw federal guidance that trans students should be able to use bathrooms of their choice.

“I’m definitely a little scared of how things are going, just the anger and violence that comes out of it and just the tone of conversation about it,” Christianson said. “We’ve come so far, especially in the last few decades, that I don’t want to see that repressed in any way.”

In May, Trump tweeted about Pride Month and praised the “outstanding contributions” of LGBT people. But his administration has also aligned with some religious conservatives in arguing that nondiscrimination protections for those same people can infringe on the religious beliefs of others who oppose same-sex marriage and transgender rights.

At the Queer Liberation March near the Stonewall Inn, some participants said the larger Pride parade had become too commercialized and heavily policed.

“What’s important to remember is that this is a protest against the monetization of the Pride parade, against the police brutality of our community, against the poor treatment of sections of our community, of black and brown folk, of immigrants,” said Jake Seller, a 24-year-old Indiana native who now lives in Brooklyn and worked as one of the march’s volunteers.

Other attendees focused on the progress that’s been made within the LGBTQ community over the last few decades.

“We’ve come so far in the past 20 years,” said 55-year-old Gary Piper, who came from Kansas to celebrate Pride with his partner. “I remember friends who would be snatched off the streets in Texas for dressing in drag. They’d have to worry about being persecuted for their identity.”

“But now we’re so much more accepted. I’m not saying we don’t have a ways to go, but let’s celebrate how far we’ve come,” he said.

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Police presence was high at the march, with several officers posted at every corner. Metal barricades were erected along the entire parade route.

The larger New York Pride parade had 677 contingents, including community groups, major corporations and cast members from FX’s “Pose.” Organizers expected at least 150,000 people to march, with hundreds of thousands more lining the streets to watch.

The Pride march concludes a month of Stonewall commemorations in New York that included rallies, parties, film showings and a human rights conference. The celebration coincides with WorldPride, an international LGBTQ event that started in Rome in 2000 and was held in New York this past week.

Other Pride events were planned around the U.S. and the world.

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