mAhead of the 53rd annual Pride March in New York City on Sunday, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation supporting transgender youth by protecting their access to health care which confirms gender.
“Today we celebrate the values that define us as New Yorkers: we embrace love and equality, progress and acceptance, unity and celebration,” Ms Hochul said.
Part of the legislation is a new law that would make New York a “safe haven” for trans youth, their families and doctors by preventing the state from enacting punitive laws of people for seeking gender-affirming health care.
This comes at a time when at least 19 other states have enacted laws or policies prohibiting affirmative action health care for trans youth and nearly 500 bills have been introduced that affect in the LGBT + community.
“We leave here re-committed to our quest for justice and equality for all, and we will always be a beacon to the rest of the country on how to do it right. Because from Seneca Falls to Stonewall, we stand We have people from the beginning and we will continue to do so,” said Ms Hochul.
As Ms Hochul signed the legislation, the Pride March began with rainbow confetti and thousands of cheers from people lining Fifth Avenue in celebration of the LGBT+ community.
Every year, the nonprofit organization Heritage of Pride produces the world-famous march to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969 – which they describe as “the beginning of the modern Gay Rights movement.”
Actor and LGBT+ activist Billy Porter spoke The Independent that the Pride March means “everything” to him.
“It’s a protest, it’s a march,” Mr Porter said.
The Grammy- and Tony-award-winning actor served as grand marshall of this year’s parade and stood next to Ms Hochul as she signed the law.
Porter added: “We have work to do.”
The nation’s largest Pride event follows a volatile, record-breaking year of legislative threats to LGBT+ people and a wave of reports of harassment and violent threats targeting LGBT+ people. communities.
Protests and acts of violence against drag performers and drag events fueled by homophobic and transphobic abuse have surged in the past year, along with a marked increase in online rhetoric against LGBT+ people. that fuels offline threats, according to a report published this week by extremism watchdog the Institute for Strategic Dialogue
A separate report this week from the Anti-Defamation League and GLAAD documented more than 350 acts of harassment, vandalism and violence against LGBT+ people and events from June 2022 to April 2023. More than half such threats clearly refer to gay and trans people as pedophiles and “groomers”, encouraging longstanding homophobic and transphobic smears.
In New York, the windows of a gay bar were smashed with bricks several times in one month last year.
The home and office of New York City Council member Erik Bottcher, who is gay, was vandalized after he supported a drag queen story hour at a local library.
The Stonewall Inn, located in Mr Bottcher’s district, has been vandalized repeatedly in recent weeks. The pride flags outside the bar were also torn in half.
Threats and violence have followed legislative sessions in state capitols across the country, where hundreds of bills aimed at LGBT+ people — especially trans youth — have been filed in the past several years, as Republican lawmakers use the anti-trans rhetoric that dominates GOP platforms. in the 2024 election.
In addition to the “safe haven” law signed by Ms Hochul on Sunday, a piece of legislation would give individuals the right to receive tailored addiction treatment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Another law updated language in the legislation to include gender-neutral pronouns.
Many New York lawmakers and officials showed up at this year’s Pride March, standing in solidarity with the community.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer marched while periodically shouting, “I passed the marriage equality act as majority leader and now my daughter and her wife can live in peace” and “I am the first senator marching in this parade but I am not the last one.”
Other notable marchers included Senator Kristen Gillibrand, Attorney General Letitia James, Mayor Eric Adams, Manhattan Borough president Mark D Levine and Queens borough president Donovan Richards Jr.
For many, the Pride March is an opportunity to celebrate their identity and freedom while honoring the activists who fought for equal rights.
Ana Del Campo, a musician in the Queer Big Apple Corps marching band for 19 years, said The Independent that Pride is a chance to see.
“Coming out to show visibility to show that we are like everyone else,” said Ms Del Campo.
In recent years the Pride March has become commercialized with some large corporations such as Disney, Chase, Coca-Cola and others contributing floats and merchandise.
Some advocates face the role of corporations in Pride events in a more hostile environment for LGBT+ people that companies seem reluctant to stand against.
On Sunday, Starbucks workers in New York joined nationwide strikes among the coffee giant’s unionized stores after the union removed Pride decorations and banned them from stores in at least 21 states.
Striking workers marched along the company-sponsored Pride float in the New York parade and picketed the heavily trafficked Astor Place in the West Village.
“It’s important for Starbucks to remember that the LGBTQ+ community makes up a large portion of their workforce and takes place in many of the leading union efforts across the country,” Astor Place Starbucks worker Jackie Zhou said in a statement shared by The Independent.
“More than this, we are striking for a contract that includes protections not only for the LGBTQ+ community but for everyone.”
Alex Woodward contributed to this report.