By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Easily the most well-known gay pride event in New York City is the parade that happens at the end of every June, this year scheduled for this Sunday, but a number of other events are planned for this weekend in addition to the march. Read on for a list of local gatherings aimed at celebrating LGBTQ pride.
Shake Shack will be hosting a free quiet dance party to on Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. in the original Madison Square Park location at East 23rd Street. The event will be hosted by Quiet Events, a company that loans out wireless headphones for quiet dance parties throughout the city, and there will be three live DJs playing top 40 dance hits, throwbacks and hip-hop, reggae and soca. Entrance is free but a credit card is required to check in and receive the wireless headphones. The event is all ages and rainbow colors are encouraged for the dress code. Shake Shake food and drinks will be available for purchase. RSVP is available online.
While the New York City Dyke March is usually a raucous good time, the organizers technically bill the event as a protest rather than a party. The march, held on the Saturday before the parade, is mostly lesbian-led and those who don’t identify as “dykes” are encouraged to stand on the sidewalk and cheer on the participants. The organizers usually don’t seek a permit for the march, further emphasizing the political aspects of the event. Participants will step off from Bryant Park at 5 p.m. on June 23 and walk down Fifth Avenue, ending at Washington Square Park.
Two local religious institutions are also celebrating the occasion with festivities of their own.
First Presbyterian Church at 12 West 12th Street is holding a Pride cocktail hour this Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. The event will introduce new LGBTQ programming at the church that will be launching in the fall and live music, hors d’oeuvres and drinks, including rainbow sangria, will be available.
Marble Collegiate Church is hosting a Pride breakfast on the morning of the parade this Sunday from 9 to 10 a.m. in the Marble Loft at 274 Fifth Avenue. The cost is $12 but all are welcome to attend, including those who are LGBTQ or allies. Registration is available online until Friday, June 22.
While Marble also usually sets up a water table for the parade, the church will not be handing out water this year, but First Presbyterian will have a water table and is still looking for volunteers to help hand out water to participants during the evening shifts on Sunday. Sign-up is available online.
A handful of local restaurants are also offering festive drink specials for the weekend of Pride, including Sir Henri Penthouse Rooftop, the bar inside the Hotel Henri at 37 West 24th Street, as well as Oscar Wilde at 45 West 27th Street and Lillie’s Victorian Establishment at 17 East 17th Street.
Sir Henri on West 24th Street is offering a selection of rainbow cocktails, with 10 percent of the proceeds from those drink sales going to the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization that provides suicide prevention for LGBTQ young people. The specialty drinks have been available at the bar since this past Sunday and will be available through Pride weekend until June 24.
Oscar Wilde on West 27th will also be donating drink proceeds to an LGBTQ organization on the day of the parade this Sunday. The bar will be donating 100 percent of the proceeds from their rainbow shots to NYC Pride, the group that plans the March. In addition to the rainbow shots, the bar also has a specialty cocktail for the occasion, as well as a selfie station with rainbow gear available and a DJ from 4 to 8 p.m.
A sister establishment of Oscar Wilde, Lillie’s in Union Square will also be offering dancing on Saturday, with a DJ available from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. on June 23. The Victorian restaurant and bar is offering brunch specials on the day of the parade, with a bottomless brunch available for $29 for two hours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Like Oscar Wilde, Lillie’s also has a selfie station decked out with rainbow gear for post-brunch festivities. The bar is offering 10 percent off for customers that arrive in rainbow accessories on Sunday. Lillie’s has an additional location in midtown but the drink special for Pride is only available in the Union Square location.
Those looking to take in a show over Pride weekend can head to the People’s Improv Theater, where comedian Matt McCormick will be hosting “Terms of Enqueerment,” a storytelling show where LGBTQ comedians share stories about coming out of the closet to their families. Comedians in the line-up include Carolyn Bergier, Calvin Cato, Jesse Kramer, Bobby Hankinson and Kendall Ketchum. Comedian and former SNL cast member Darrell Hammond will also be making an appearance as a special guest. The show is on Thursday, June 21 at 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $11. A dollar of all ticket sales will be donated to the It Gets Better Project, an organization that aims to empower LGBTQ youth. Tickets can be purchased online ahead of time.
PrideFest, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is an annual street festival offering entertainment and activities this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The fair is held on University Place from 13th Street to Waverly Place, with a stage at 8th Street. TV personality Ross Matthews will serve as the host for the event and actor and singer Alex Newell will perform. Vendors will be selling Pride gear and various food options will be available.