NEW YORK — June 30, 2009. LGBT pride was on display Sunday: a vibrant celebration of life and diversity that included the NYPD’s Gay Officers Action League — and marchers demanding an end to the false arrests of gay men targeted by the police department.
LGBT pride was celebrated Sunday on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. The weather cooperated — no rain in New York is a news story in itself in 2009 — and the parade was a photographer’s dream.
Mixed in with the colorful floats and costumes were various New York City politicians: senator Charles Schumer, congressman Anthony Weiner, congressman Jerry Nadler, city council members John Liu and Bill DeBlasio, civil rights attorney Norm Siegel — a candidate for public advocate, former public advocate Mark Green — who is seeking to regain his old job, state senator Tom Duane, and mayoral candidates Bill Thompson (currently NYC comptroller) and Reverend Billy Talen of the Green Party.
A variety of political causes were also present at the march: marriage equality activists, AIDS research advocates, Private Health Insurance Must Go, various civil rights / legal defense organizations and church based groups from a number of faiths — including Buddhist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Jewish and Muslim — many carrying signs saying “All Are Welcome”.
Also marching were members of the “Campaign To Stop The False Arrests”, an organization formed to address the NYPD targeting of gay men for vice squad stings. The NYPD has arrested recently over 30 gay men in an apparent effort to use “prostitution” arrests as evidence to support “nuisance abatement” litigation designed to shut down stores that sell adult videos. The Giuliani administration’s assault on civil liberties, initiated in the name of “quality of life” policing, continues under the Bloomberg administration. Forty years after Stonewall, gay activists report that they continue to struggle against stigma and stereotypes.