State Senator Brad Hoylman handed out US Constitutions with his husband David Sigal during the Pride March on Fifth Avenue this Sunday. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The month honoring the LGBT movement ended on Sunday with the annual Pride March down Fifth Avenue, with even larger crowds than usual for the celebration due to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and WorldPride. The latter attracted visitors from all over the world both participating in the march and watching from the barricades.
Stuyvesant Town also celebrated Pride with a parade for the first time this year, holding the event last Wednesday after the originally scheduled date got rained out. Peggy Becker, a 25-year Stuy Town resident, said that she was excited that management had decided to host their own parade.
“It’s a historical event,” she said. “They’ve never done it before so I wanted to support it.”
High school senior Asher Dwoskin, Becker’s grandson, has marched in the city’s main parade in the past with a contingent organized by Amherst College, his mother’s alma mater, and said that marching in both that parade and Stuy Town’s was important to him.
Stuyvesant Town resident John Sicoransa hadn’t heard of the Lavender Scare when film editor Bruce Shaw contacted him about creating drawings for a documentary on the topic, but he immediately knew he wanted to get involved once he learned more about the troubling period in American history.
The Lavender Scare, the subject of a new PBS documentary by the same name that premiered last Tuesday, ran concurrently with the Red Scare, a period following World War II when Senator Joseph McCarthy stoked fears about an increase in communism. The Lavender Scare began in the 1950s when President Dwight Eisenhower declared homosexuals a security risk, in part because of a perception that they could be easily blackmailed. Federal workers were fired or forced to resign and others were denied jobs in the first place when the government suspected them of being gay.
McCarthy and attorney Roy Cohn, who later died of AIDS and was accused of being a closeted gay man, were responsible for many of the firings, which were supported by J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI.
“Once I heard the story outline and saw existing footage, I was all in,” Sicoransa said of the film.
Middle Collegiate Church’s Rev. Jacqui Lewis with Shan Gilani, husband of late activist Gary Ranker and Ranker’s son Kevin (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Middle Collegiate Church combined civil rights and Pride for an all-inclusive Juneteenth celebration last week. Senior minister Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis said that the event for Pride month was consciously held on Juneteenth. The holiday, celebrated on June 19, commemorates the emancipation of all slaves from the former Confederate states in 1865.
“We wanted to do something Juneteenth-related because it doesn’t get nearly enough recognition,” Lewis said. “We’ve been celebrating Pride 24/7/365 at Middle for decades and we’re super excited to combine these two liberation movements. This was a way to celebrate these two things together.”
The event, which honored civil rights activist Ruby Sales and gay rights activist Gary Ranker, who died earlier this year, also served as the launch of the photo exhibit, “Queer Faith,” which was also featured at the Union Theological Seminary in East Harlem.
Sales was at the event and spoke about realizing that she was a lesbian, coming out and joining the gay rights movement while fighting for civil rights.