PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO | After a number of years of holding the annual Pride Rally on a Hudson River pier, Heritage of Pride, in a bow to the dire political straits America finds itself in, took the event back to the streets this year, holding it in Foley Square downtown on June 16.
Threatening skies and occasional showers held the number of attendees down to several hundred, which is unfortunate given the line-up of community leaders who spoke, including Aaron C. Morris of Immigration Equality, Lee Soulja-Simmons of NYC Black Pride, Mariah Lopez of STARR, or Strategic Transgender Alliance for Radical Reform, Reverend Jacqui Lewis, pastor of Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village, Carl Siciliano of the Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBTQ youth, James Esseks of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBTQ and HIV/ AIDS Project, Gabriel Blau and Luis Mancheno of Equality New York, and Britain’s Andrew Gilmour, the United Nations assistant secretary-general for Human Rights.
Michael Adams, who heads up SAGE, or Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, warned of the Trump administration’s efforts at “erasure” of LGBTQ seniors by eliminating questions about sexual orientation and gender identity from important national surveys. Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, talked about that group’s new ampersand symbol that aims to underscore the need for unity among all human rights struggles. And Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer made the simple observation that in the face of the threat posed by the Trump presidency, “We care about each other more than ever.”
But nobody’s message had greater resonance and poignancy than that of Rebekah Bruesehoff, a 10-year-old transgender girl from New Jersey, who appeared with her mom Jamie.
“I don’t need to wear makeup or dresses or act in a certain way to be a girl,” she said. “I don’t need to prove I’m girl enough. I know who I am.”
To which her mom responded, “I love her with all my heart and I fight for her as hard as I can.” — Additional reporting by Paul Schindler