Everyone loves a parade. Especially New York City mayors. Usually front and center—mayors march on every occasion—Veterans Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Columbus Day, Steuben Day, Puerto Rican Day, Norwegian Day (yes, in case you missed it, the 2019 Norwegian Day parade stepped off in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on May 19).
And this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio will join an estimated 150,000 marchers when New York City hosts WorldPride and the 50th anniversary of the uprising at the Stonewall Inn which galvanized the modern gay rights movement. In the blog this week we highlight photographs depicting New York City mayors marching in the annual Gay Pride parades.
The first Gay Pride parade took place on June 28, 1970, the one year anniversary of Stonewall. There is correspondence in the Municipal Archives indicating that mayoral staff members knew about the parade, but then-Mayor John Lindsay did not participate. Nor did his successor, Abraham Beame, during his term in office from 1974 through 1977.
Edward Koch was the first New York City mayor to march in the Gay Pride parade. In 1985, the New York Times reported that it was the Mayor's first “official” appearance in the march—having joined it, unannounced, as it was ending in the prior year. The poster in this image is partially cut-off—it says “Pass the Gay Rights Bill Now.” Known as Intro. 475, the bill had been first introduced in the City Council in January, 1971. It eventually would amend the Human Rights Law and extend the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Commission to prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on a persons’ sexual orientation. In 1986, the Council finally passed the bill and Koch signed it into law on April 2, 1986.
David Dinkins’ supported the LGBT community prior to his election as Mayor in 1989, and sustained his commitment throughout his mayoralty. His photographs document numerous receptions and press conferences related to LGBT events as well as the June 27, 1993 parade. “It’s not unusual for me,” Mr. Dinkins said about taking part in the parade. “I’m here every year.”