With the tagline “No Cops, No Corps, No BS,” the 3rd annual Queer Liberation March, organized by the Reclaim Pride Coalition (RCP) will once again take to the streets of New York City. Historically, the last Sunday in June, is commonly known as Gay Pride Sunday and this year the QLM is Sunday, June 27th. Last year, an estimated 50,000 protesters marched from Foley Square, down Seventh Avenue past the historic Stonewall Inn, ending with a rally in Washington Square Park. Last year’s march, the “Queer Liberation March For Black Lives and Against Police Brutality” ended with alleged incidents of police brutality towards peaceful protestors.
Born from the desire to bring Pride back to its roots of a rebellion the Reclaim Pride Coalition organized the first QLM in 2019 on the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. RPC estimates that 45,000 people followed the same route as the very first march – the Christopher Street Liberation Day March – returning to the “traditional meaning and measure of a march.” On their website RPC explains how the QLM came to light,
The complex proliferation of Parades as the model for Pride Celebrations internationally is deeply disturbing… to many people in the LGBTQIA2S+ communities. Community organizers, activists, and queers of conscience banded together after years of seeing the annual NYC Pride March transformed into a 7, then 9, then 12 hour circus. Overflowing with corporate floats and at the service of corporate money, the Pride Parade had become a new symbol of gay for pay. The imposition of barricades along the parade route separated the participants from its audience, turning the Pride March into a entertainment venue instead of a true expression of our cultural legacy. The presence of a dozen police officers at every intersection of the Parade marked the collusion of the non-profit board and the very instance of state sponsored oppression.
Heritage of Pride (HOP), has come under major scrutiny in the past years for their alleged refusal to work with community groups and LGBTQ activists in the production of the Pride parade. Jay W. Walker, an organizer with the RPC spoke with me and had this to say about HOP,
HOP sees themselves as event producers. They produce a big party, a festival, rather than a political event for the LGBTQIA community.
Instinct ran a story just last week when “Heritage of Pride, reversed it’s decision to ban gay armed police officers in uniform from marching in this year’s Pride Parade last night. The original decision, announced last week, sparked days of controversy voiced by the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL).” In a press release issued shortly after Jason Rosenberg, an organizer with RPC, commented,
We are glad that the Anti-Violence Project was finally able to get HOP to listen, but HOP’s refusal to recognize the years of work Reclaim Pride has dedicated to championing these issues in HOP Town Halls, direct meetings between the two groups, and in our Marches is erasure of the worst kind.”
“G.O.A.L.’s presence at Pride gives people the false impression that the NYPD is an ally to queer people. I know G.O.A.L. wants that to be true and works for that to be true, but it isn’t true. Not today.” https://t.co/90SE8tUjOm
— Reclaim Pride Coalition (@queermarch) May 21, 2021
Rosenberg suffered numerous injuries, including a broken arm, and was refused medical treatment for hours in lock-up after the NYPD attacked a queer- and trans-led Black Lives Matter protest on June 2, 2020 after the killing of George Floyd. During last year’s march there were numerous clashes with NYPD resulting in three people being arrested and charged with assaulting an officer. RPC issued a statement to NBC news detailing the incidents,
an NYPD officer stepped forward to arrest a marcher (reason unknown and the NYPD won’t say), and a crowd gathered to object, chanting ‘Let him go’. Suddenly, a large crowd of NYPD officers rushed in and attacked with pepper spray. All that did was increase the crowd yelling at them to ‘go home,’ while marchers nursed their pepper spray wounds. One NYPD member reached out to slam a woman on a bicycle to the ground. Other marchers were punched and violently shoved.
This year’s QLM will step off at 3pm at 6th Avenue and 41st Street. The march is free and open to everyone, a stark contrast to the HOP produced Pride Parade which only allows organized groups with each group having to pay an entrance fee. The march will end with a rally in Washington Square Park. The rally will include speakers and performers. As RPC organizer Jay W. Walker reiterated to me,
“With Reclaim Pride we are going back to our roots, back to the Christopher Street Liberation Day, and producing a march FOR OUR RIGHTS!”
For more information about Reclaim Pride or the Queer Liberation March go to reclaimpridenyc.org