It's been nearly two weeks since the worst hate crime in the nation's history claimed the lives of 49 innocents and wounded 53 more at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. But in a manner that displays our city at its best, NYC has shown up to honor and celebrate Pride and make lasting changes for LGBT Americans everywhere. Immediately after the attack, vigils were held all over the city. Then, on Tuesday, the New York City Council overwhelmingly voted to de-gender single-stall bathrooms in New York City. Yesterday, NY Daily News reported that Pulse Nightclub owner Barbara Poma has accepted an invitation to ride the lead float at Sunday's parade, with Mayor Bill De Blasio promising a bigger parade—and more security—than ever.
And now, even more good news; history making news, actually: President Obama is designating a national monument at the Stonewall Inn. The eight-acre Stonewall National Monument will be the first landmark dedicated to the LGBT community in the National Parks System. Though the monument commemorates the lightning rod 1969 Stonewall Riots, in which LGBT patrons took a stand against the oppression of police raids, it will also stand as a global marker for the permanence and last legacy of the LGBT community. You can watch the announcement below:
"I'm designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America's national parks system," President Obama said in the White House announcement video, further cementing his legacy as the most LGBT-supportive American President in history. "Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country—the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one."
Though plans for the new landmark have been in the works at the White House since early May—with heavy advocacy from NY Democrat Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Representative Jerrold Nadler—the timing couldn't be better. This year's NYC Pride Parade will likely be its biggest ever—far surpassing the 1.6 million attendees at last year's parade. Over 85 floats and bands will be rolling down the parade route, and marchers will be more galvanized than ever in the wake of the Orlando massacre. That the parade will finish at the future site of a permanent national monument to LGBT liberation is a symbolic sign of how far the movement has come since the harrowing raids of the ’50s and ’60s—and that our continuing fight for safety, equality and happiness cannot be ignored.
Though LGBT Americans may feel embattled, shamed and often endangered, we now have a place of our own under the jurisdiction of our government—and no one can take that away.
The NYC Pride Parade takes place on Sunday June 26 at noon. To find out more, check out our guide of everything you need to know about the Gay Pride Parade in NYC.