Essential art and events celebrating the biggest Pride in NYC history
June marks the month-long celebration for the LGBTQ+ community called Pride. Over the last five decades, Pride commemorations have spread around the globe, but it all started here in NYC. While the city has always been home to one of world’s largest Pride celebrations, this June will be the biggest Pride yet. Not only will the city host the international WorldPride celebration for the first time, there are over 4 million people expected to take part in the NYC Pride March alone!
Pride began as an event to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which took place between June 28 and July 3 at the Stonewall Inn, one of the only openly gay establishments at the time. Police raided the Greenwich Village bar, and forced several employees and customers out, sparking six days of violent protests in the streets between the police, neighbors, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Today, the Stonewall Inn is still standing strong as a National Historic Landmark and bar, offering a safe space for the LGTBTQ+ community and all who pass through its doors. It also serves as a reminder of its pivotal place within the LBGTQ+ Rights Movement in the US, and ultimately around the globe.
“I really hope this anniversary reminds people how far we’ve come, but also how far we have to go,” genderqueer performance artist Coorain said when asked about the significance of the riots today. “From where we started, or even from when I grew [up], it feels like a whole new world. The fight is still on for real sex education. We have to stop conversion therapy and bathroom bills. As much as we celebrate, we need to honor and continue the struggle of our queer ancestors.”
In honor of Stonewall’s 50th anniversary, here are seven exhibitions, screenings and gatherings to check out to show your support for the queer community and to acknowledge this historic milestone. For more events throughout the month, visit NYC Pride.
Battle of the Legends Voguing Competition, Metropolitan Museum of Art
In an effort to honor the dance tradition of voguing and its queer roots, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will host a voguing battle featuring Asia Balenciaga, Bootz Prodigy, Dashaun Lanvin, Omari Mizrahi, Tamiyah Miyake-Mugler, and Ty Ebony on June 11th. Fashion icon and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour will also serve as a judge.
Currently on view at New York University’s Grey Gallery as well as the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Art After Stonewall Is the first exhibition to look critically at the effect the riots had on the queer art. The show features the work of over 30 artists including Vaginal Davis, Lyle Ashton Harris, Greer Lankton, Catherine Opie, and Andy Warhol and others. The show explores a number of complex themes ranging from the AIDS epidemic and activism, queerness as a form of resistance, identity and more. It is on view now until July 20th.
Love and Resistance: Stonewall 50, New York Public Library
The Stonewall Riots served as a lightning rod within the civil and gay rights movements and helped sparked a greater revolution surrounding the LBGTQ community. An exhibition currently on view through July 13 at the New York Public Library looks at the photographs of Kay Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davies and their of the key events from this era. The show also features a variety of items from the NYPL’s own archives including ephemera, magazines, newspapers, and special events throughout its run.
Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall, Brooklyn Museum
Instead of surveying queer art around the time of Stonewall, Brooklyn Museum’s commemoration of the riots’ 50th anniversary showcases LGBTQ artists born in 1969 and onward. The show, which runs through December 8, 2019, includes 28 artists whose work wrestles with the politics and culture of our era, and is centered around themes of desire, commemoration, revolt and care. A special Pride-themed dance party on June 8 and an art history happy hour offering drinks, music and lectures on Stonewall’s legacy on June 13 are all part of the exhibition.
City Point BKLYN Pride installation
Hugh Ryan’s book, When Brooklyn Was Queer, about Brooklyn’s forgotten LGBTQ history, serves as the inspiration for commemorative Pride installation this month at City Point. Featuring a “rainbow of cascading colors interspersed with historical references,” it will be unveiled June 8 and run through June 30.
Taking place steps away from where the historic riots happened, the Stonewall 50 Commemoration rally will take place on June 28th from 6-9pm. The rally will feature various speakers, activists, politicians and more and will both commemorate Stonewall and address the current political climate.
Screening of Stonewall Uprising in Washington Square Park
On the anniversary of Stonewall, come gather underneath the arch at Washington Square Park to watch Stonewall Uprising, a PBS documentary about the historic events of those six days in 1969. The June 26 screening will be part of the first WorldPride in the United States, and is free and open to the public. Get there before 8:30pm to secure your spot.