New York stages emotional Pride march after 2020 online-only event
By Brittany Kriegstein and Clayton Guse, New York Daily News
New York, New York - New York City’s Pride march returned on Sunday, a year after the coronavirus outbreak forced the celebration to go online-only for the first time in its history.
This year’s event was mostly virtual and so more modest than pre-pandemic megamarches – but still drew thousands of attendees to celebrate the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community, including a woman who proposed to her girlfriend in the middle of the emotional festivities.
Jaimie Lord, a gay rights activist from Virginia Beach, Virginia, dropped down on one knee about 12:30 PM along the parade route outside the historic Stonewall Inn to propose to Lindsey Randler.
Randler said yes. The crowd around them went wild.
"I’m so happy that we can be here and that I’m engaged to the love of my life," said Randler. "We’ve both been through a lot to get to this point."
The sense of relief was shared by Pride attendees who travelled from far and wide to let loose after a pandemic that just 15 months ago turned Greenwich Village into a ghost town.
"I’m a little anxious with so many people because I’m not used to this many people because, you know, pandemic, but it’s actually really nice," said Cody Sexton, who works as an emergency medical technician and security guard in upstate New York.
"Hopefully everyone is vaccinated."
The power of being outdoors
For Jono Mainelli (48), this year’s event was a chance to heal after a year of trauma.
"[I did] nothing last year, because I was dealing with that health crisis and dealing with home and being responsible. It was a very confusing time," said Mainelli, a native New Yorker who marched in the parade with a group of friends, including fashion designer Calvin Klein. "It’s very powerful to be out of doors, out in the world."
Mainelli said he’s attended every Pride march since 1989.
Eleven-year-old Akira Bradley of the Bronx, on the other hand, celebrated her first.
Akira arrived at the Stonewall with her grandmother at 10 AM to secure a good spot to watch the event – and said it was eye-opening.
"It means absolutely everything, considering that in the place that I live I don’t have many friends, let alone have many connections to LGBT youth," Akira said.
"It’s really good to be a part of this community and to see all these people here and to see the parade and other people just expressing themselves."
Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire