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Party and protest mix as LGBTQ pride parades roll from coast to coast

Parades in New York, Chicago and San Francisco are among events roughly 400 Pride organizations across the U.S. are holding this year, many focused on the rights of transgender people.
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NEW YORK — Thousands of effusive marchers danced to club music in New York City streets Sunday as bubbles and confetti rained down, and fellow revelers from Toronto to San Francisco cheered through Pride Month’s grand crescendo.

New York’s boisterous throng strolled and danced down Fifth Avenue to Greenwich Village, cheering and waving rainbow flags to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall uprising, where a police raid on a gay bar triggered days of protests and launched the modern movement for LGBTQ+ rights.

While some people whooped it up in celebration, many were mindful of the growing conservative countermovement, including new laws banning gender-affirming care for transgender children.

“I’m not trying not to be very heavily political, but when it does target my community, I get very, very annoyed and very hurt,” said Ve Cinder, a 22-year-old transgender woman who traveled from Pennsylvania to take part in the country’s largest pride event.

“I’m just, like, scared for my future and for my trans siblings. I’m frightened of how this country has looked at human rights, basic human rights,” she said. “It’s crazy.”

Parades in New York, Chicago and San Francisco are among events that roughly 400 Pride organizations across the U.S. are holding this year, with many focused specifically on the rights of transgender people.

People watch the Pride parade in New York on June 25, 2023.
People watch the Pride parade in New York on Sunday.Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AP

Entertainers and activists, drag performers and transgender advocates are among the parade grand marshals embracing a unity message as new laws targeting the LGBTQ community take effect in several U.S. states.

“The platform will be elevated, and we’ll see communities across the country show their unity and solidarity through these events,” said Ron deHarte, co-president for the U.S. Association of Prides.

Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver and Seattle held pride parades Sunday. At the parade in Toronto, Canada, more than 100 groups2343expected to march. In New York City, seven-time Grammy winner Christina Aguilera was the scheduled headliner at a post-march concert in Brooklyn.

Annual observations have spread to other cities and grown to welcome bisexual, transgender and queer people, as well as other groups.

About a decade ago, when her 13-year-old child first wanted to be called a boy, Roz Gould Keith sought help. She found little to assist her family in navigating the transition. They attended a Pride parade in the Detroit area, but saw little transgender representation.

This year, she is heartened by the increased visibility of transgender people at marches and celebrations across the country this month.

“Ten years ago, when my son asked to go to Motor City Pride, there was nothing for the trans community,” said Keith, founder and executive director of Stand with Trans, a group formed to support and empower young transgender people and their families.

This year, she said, the event was “jam-packed” with transgender people.

One of the grand marshals of New York City’s parade was nonbinary activist AC Dumlao, chief of staff for Athlete Ally, a group that advocates on behalf of LGBTQ athletes.

“Uplifting the trans community has always been at the core of our events and programming,” said Dan Dimant, a spokesperson for NYC Pride.

Many of this year’s parades called for LGBTQ communities to unite against dozens, if not hundreds, of legislative bills now under consideration in statehouses across the country.

Lawmakers in 20 states have moved to ban gender-affirming care for children, and at least seven more are considering doing the same, adding increased urgency for the transgender community, its advocates say.

“We are under threat,” Pride event organizers in New York, San Francisco and San Diego said in a statement joined by about 50 other Pride organizations nationwide. “The diverse dangers we are facing as an LGBTQ community and Pride organizers, while differing in nature and intensity, share a common trait: they seek to undermine our love, our identity, our freedom, our safety, and our lives.”

Some parades, including the event in Chicago, planned beefed up security amid the upheaval.

The Anti-Defamation League and GLAAD, a national LGBTQ organization, found 101 anti-LGBTQ incidents in the first three weeks of this month, about twice as many as in the full month of June last year.

Sarah Moore, who analyzes extremism for the two civil rights groups, said many of the June incidents coincide with Pride events.