A meeting of the Heritage of Pride (HOP) committee that organizes New York City’s annual pride parade grew heated at moments as activists pressed their case to have groups that are resisting Republican control of the federal government placed at the front of this year’s parade while HOP pushed back, even as staff and volunteers from the group insisted they were not refusing the request.
“I don’t think you guys will look very good shutting out a movement that was founded in the very spirit that started this very march,” said Tim Murphy, an activist who is part of Gays Against Guns and Rise + Resist, two of the groups seeking a spot at the front of this year’s pride parade.
In addition to Gays Against Guns and Rise + Resist, members of ACT UP and United Thru Action are asking that the resistance be placed at the front of the parade. The groups are saying they expect to be joined by other organizations on June 25 when New York City’s pride parade steps off. The resistance groups have organized recent protests in New York City and they joined the protests in Washington, DC, on January 20 when Donald Trump was inaugurated as well as the Women’s March on Washington on January 21.
The effort to place the groups at the front of this year’s parade was organized by Ken Kidd, a longtime AIDS and LGBTQ activist. At the March 21 meeting, Kidd proposed that HOP make the resistance an honorary grand marshal of this year’s pride parade. That would place the groups at the front of the parade and allow HOP to be seen as joining the resistance movement.
While the March 21 meeting of HOP’s committee was generally polite, there were moments when activists and HOP staff and volunteers interrupted each other or groaned or yelled at comments made by others.
Julian Sanjivan, HOP’s march director, chaired the meeting, which was held in a packed room at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. The meeting was scheduled to run for 90 minutes, with most of that time scheduled for discussion on matters other than the resistance groups’ demand, but at 60 minutes, Sanjivan had to cut off the conversation about that demand.
“We want to move forward, but we’re not going to promise any positions right now,” Sanjivan said, adding that HOP would have an answer in a week. He solicited “feedback” from HOP volunteers and staff in the room.
Jere Keys, a longtime HOP member, first said that his comments were not meant as “pushback” or “rebuttal,” and then he pushed back and rebutted comments made by the resistance groups. Having them at the start of the parade would mean the parade was part protest and part celebration.
“It creates a two-tiered march,” Keys said. “We want pride to be a place where everyone is welcome.”
Sue Doster, who heads strategic planning for HOP, expressed the concern that adding thousands more to the event would lengthen the time the parade takes to finish, something that would irritate the city’s police department.
“Our current march route is at capacity,” she said. “You can’t add a half million people to that march and keep it safe for everyone.”
In recent years, the NYPD, which issues parade permits, has required some parades to cut the length of their route to reduce the cost of policing such events. HOP shaved roughly a dozen Midtown blocks off its route.
HOP and the groups first met on March 13 at the Center and any further discussion was postponed until the March 21 meeting. The day before the second meeting, Kidd wrote to HOP telling the group that organizers were expecting an answer at that second meeting.
“For three or four weeks, I have been in contact with [HOP],” Kidd said. “We are now waiting to hear about whether you are listening.”
The Los Angeles pride parade, which steps off on June 11, has announced that it is joining the Equality March for Unity and Pride, which began as a Washington, DC, event and may be turning into a national day of protest for the LGBT community. LA! Pride is using the title #ResistMarch.