NEW YORK – Thousands of people clad in rainbow colors marched Sunday through Greenwich Village and up Fifth Avenue for the annual Gay Pride parade, a massive celebration of LGBTQ identity.
One of this year's grand marshals was tennis legend Billie Jean King, along with transgender advocate Tyler Ford and civil rights organization Lambda Legal.
Lady Gaga’s "Born This Way" blared from loudspeakers as people marched, danced, stomped and watched along the route. The attire at the 49th annual parade was loud and proud – rainbow suspenders, leopard heels, thongs and fairy wings.
But the jubilant mood was also tinged with frustration. Signs deriding President Donald Trump, who has not acknowledged LGBTQ Pride month for the second year in a row, rose above banners declaring love.
The first Gay Pride parade was held in 1970 after the 1969 Stonewall Riots, a series of violent demonstrations against a police raid that targeted the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. The parade was then more of a protest against discrimination than a celebration of diversity.
The rights of LGBTQ people – those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer – have made great strides the past few decades, and the Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015 was a major victory for the community.
But the Supreme Court ruled this month in favor of a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple on religious grounds. And Trump pushed for a ban on transgender people serving in the military.
Cities across the country hold pride parades and festivals throughout June. Other cities with parades Sunday included Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Seattle.
"I think the march is a good opportunity to showcase the variety of the LGBT community and a lot of the most pressing issues people are facing now,” said Ryan Thoreson, a researcher at Human Rights Watch who specializes in LGBTQ issues and attended the march.
People seemed particularly politically engaged this year, carrying signs that spoke to immigration and health care in addition to LGBTQ issues, he said.
"It was very loud, it was very jovial," said Kerri Berney, who is from New York City. Berney considers herself a "straight ally" and came to the parade to support LGBTQ family members. "Everyone was in a good mood."
Victoria Sax, 44, of Long Island marched Sunday in her first NYC Pride Parade. Sax, who identifies as gender fluid, wants to help increase visibility for the LGBTQ community.
Pride "means defiance. It means we're here. It means despite politicians that don't think we should exist, that we do," Sax said. "And we're going to show you that we do."
Simon reported from McLean, Va.