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Heritage of Pride, Insisting It’s Listening, Pushes Back Against Resistance Groups’ Demand

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Longtime activist Ken Kidd, who launched the drive to have resistance groups lead the pride parade in June, is demanding a prompt answer from Heritage of Pride. | DONNA ACETO
Longtime activist Ken Kidd, who launched the drive to have resistance groups lead the pride parade in June, is demanding a prompt answer from Heritage of Pride. | DONNA ACETO

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.

Sue Doster, who heads strategic planning for HOP, raised significant concerns about the resistance groups' demand. | DONNA ACETO
Sue Doster, who heads strategic planning for HOP, raised significant concerns about the resistance groups' demand. | DONNA ACETO

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.”

 Tim Murphy, an activist who is part of Gays Against Guns and Rise + Resist, warned HOP it risked a public relations fiasco if it denied a lead role for resistance groups. | DONNA ACETO
Tim Murphy, an activist with Gays Against Guns and Rise + Resist, warned HOP it risked a public relations fiasco if it denied a lead role to resistance groups. | DONNA ACETO

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.

Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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Reader feedback

David Hamburger says:
"Having them at the start of the parade would mean the parade was part protest and part celebration." When has it NOT been that? The first Pride started as a celebration of a RIOT! It has ALWAYS been a demand for equality and fair treatment from the community at large! To pretend that it isn't is a complete misunderstanding of everything that Pride is all about! That's very disturbing coming from a HOP member.
March 23, 2017, 10:37 pm
Will Morgan says:
If incorporating the two is a time issue, then have it be all protest - that's what we need right now.
March 24, 2017, 1:47 am
Bruce Kogan says:
This is not a time for prudence.
March 24, 2017, 5:53 am
David says:
They didn't keep Act Up out, but an equally dangerous force is among us and they play politic.
March 24, 2017, 6:24 am
David Morris says:
Correct! Well said!
March 24, 2017, 10:32 am
David Morris says:
Correct!
March 24, 2017, 10:33 am
TAG says:
HOP would not exist were it not for protesters standing up for justice. Vive la Resistance.
March 24, 2017, 1:20 pm
Bob Schwartz says:
Trump and the tag-along Democrats need to be protested. The Chicago parade needs to dump the politicians and get the "Pride Parade" back to reflecting the resistance movement that pushed the agenda for systemic change across the board.
March 24, 2017, 1:44 pm
Jason Victor Serinus says:
People at the Stonewall rebelled against police repression. Close to 50years later later, the length of the parade is determined by the police, and HOP organizers are concerned that making a strong political statement may alienate people? There is something very, very wrong with this picture. In the Bay Area, maybe four years ago, activist members of the community, galvanized in part by Joey Cain, took back Pride from what sounds like a similar group of assimilationists. This came about after the head of Pride issued a major repudiation of Chelsea Manning, and balked at the thought of having her made a Grand Marshall in absentia. (Something like that... the memory is foggy with distance.) The Chelsea Manning contingent ended up winning the prize as the best contingent in the Parade, and new, community-oriented leadership took over. I don't know how Pride is structured in NYC, but the time may have come for a similar house cleaning .
March 24, 2017, 2:21 pm
David says:
This guy goes in there making all kinds of demands on short notice. Where the hell has he been in the past 20 some odd years. Not volunteering for HOP, that's for sure. The people at HOP are all volunteers and have to work daytime jobs as well. There is a secondary monthly meeting that takes place to work out logistics. Plus, they have to talk to the city and the police to see what they can do about this. It takes time so for this guy to go in there making unreasonable time demands is nothing more than BS.
March 24, 2017, 2:47 pm
Marsha says:
Interesting that Gay City News doesn't disclose when their reporters have ties to groups on one side of a conflict story. I guess slanted reporting isn't covered in your publication's journalistic ethics practices.
March 24, 2017, 5:19 pm
Wallace Bachman says:
The Pride Parade risks becoming another irrelevant spectacle (Macy's, St. Patrick's) unless it resumes its heritage of being NYC's edgiest, most in-your-face, angry, creative, howling celebration of expanding liberty and and justice for all.
March 26, 2017, 11:30 am
Sheri Clemons says:
This is and always has been a Pride march, not a parade. We march for our rights. This year it is more important than ever to march for our rights as we resist the Trump Administration and radical right wing politician's efforts to erase GLBTQI people from society. They have taken us out of the US Census. They are decimating our rights and our health care. Moreover, they are decimating the rights of many other vulnerable citizens as well, who have stood in solidarity with us. This is a march where we need to express our resistance to the far right wing agenda plaguing our nation.
April 3, 2017, 11:50 pm
Sheri Clemons says:
HOP volunteers are stewards of the march on behalf of the community. HOP volunteers need to listen up when members of the community speak up about the march. The march is and always has been about fighting for our rights. It is not a pageant parade to entertain spectators. This year of all years is the year to remember it is a march of resistance from those who would oppress us.
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