NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City Pride was on full display Sunday afternoon as thousands gathered for the 51st annual march.
The NYC Pride March broadcast special returned for its fifth consecutive year and featured live performances, on-air interviews and exciting street-side marching activity.
Despite New York City's annual LGBTQ Pride parade going mostly virtual again this year, demonstrators and celebrators still made their presence felt as the streets of NYC were filled with pride and rainbow colors.
The main New York City Pride parade, which usually draws throngs of participants and spectators, was once again presented as a television broadcast special, since now-lifted pandemic restrictions were still in effect at the time it was being planned.
But people were still able to gather in person on Sunday afternoon for PrideFest, a street fair with vendors, food and entertainment in Manhattan. A dance party was planned for Herald Square and fireworks, music and food were prepared for Pier 45 in Hudson River Park.
There was also a big show of pride in Harlem. The Uptown Rainbow Stage bills itself as the only Pride celebration uptown and it included an outdoor festival and a stage with performances.
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NYC Pride Grand Marshals
The NYC Pride March grand marshals for 2021 were Wilson Cruz, Ceyenne Doroshow, Menaka Guruswamy, Arundhati Katju, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, and Aaron Philip.
The official theme for 2021 was "The Fight Continues."
Organizers explained the theme, saying, it "reflects the multitude of battles we've been fighting as a country and as a city. With the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, issues of police brutality, the alarming murder rate for trans POC, economic hardship, climate disasters, violent efforts to disenfranchise voters, our rights as a community being questioned at the level of the Supreme Court, and more, we are in the midst of many different fights."
Pandemic-related changes this year
All in-person elements were produced in accordance with the most current guidelines for public events in the city.
Rounding out programming for this year's NYC Pride March were the March Pop-Ups. As local businesses open up to indoor activities, NYC Pride reimagined the typical Pride March Float experience by utilizing the outdoor seating areas of locally owned businesses in Manhattan.
These unique Pop-Ups helped boost visibility for local business owners, provide a canvas for out-of-work designers and artists, and bring an added vibrancy back to the streets in June. An interactive map will allow attendees to find their favorite activations, and learn more about organizations that are participating.
'Pride 2021: We Belong'
The Channel 7 Eyewitness News special "Pride 2021: We Belong" is an hour-long celebration of diversity, inclusion and unity that was broadcast on the eve of the Pride Sunday march in New York City. Click here to stream or download our app for Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV or Android to watch on your television.
Hosts Ken Rosato, Lauren Glassberg, and Sam Champion brought viewers an array of informative and entertaining stories about the LGBTQ+ community, including emotional and inspiring profiles of people making an impact in the ongoing struggle for equal rights.
What is Pride month?
Every summer in the United States, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community comes together for a month-long celebration of love, diversity, acceptance, and unashamed self-pride. The month is meant to recognize the sweeping impact that LGBTQ+ individuals, advocates, and allies have on history in the United States and around the globe, according to the Library of Congress.
When is Pride month?
LGBTQ+ Pride Month is celebrated every year in June. The month of June was chosen for LGBTQ+ Pride Month to commemorate the riots held by members of the LGBTQ+ community against a police raid that took place at the Stonewall Inn in New York City on June 28, 1969.
The so-called Stonewall riots were a "tipping point" for the gay liberation movement in the United States, according to the Library of Congress. The uproar also paved the way for the modern fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
Previous U.S. presidents have, on several occasions, officially declared June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
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Bill Ritter reflects on being an LGBTQ+ ally to his daughter
Bill Ritter pens a letter about being an ally for his daughter: My daughter Mia was 17 when she came out. She was bold, she was honest, she was straightforward. What she wasn't as scared of our reaction. She knew that her baby boomer parents and her modern-day family would embrace her pronouncement of who she was, and who she is.
My reaction? I was so proud of Mia's exploration, discovery, and journey about her identity.
Initiative uncovers historical sites linked to the LGBTQ+ movement across New York City
A new initiative is aiming to uncover historical sites linked to the LGBTQ+ movement across New York City that could be both informative and preservative.
Drag queens return to the stage after a year of virtual performances
For drag queens across the country, the pandemic forced them to take their performances online. Pissi Myles, Jasmine Rice LaBeija, and Bella Noche, three Tri-state area queens, were no exception.
Despite their initial struggle to find work, the drag queens found a way to keep their audience engaged with virtual performances. Now, more than a year later, as restrictions are eased and bars reopen, the queens are hitting the stage once again.
LGBTQ activists pour out Anheuser-Busch beers outside Stonewall Inn
LGBT activists poured out cases of Anheuser-Busch beers into the gutter outside of the historic Stonewall Inn Wednesday in protest over the company's donations to certain lawmakers.
Stonewall co-owner Stacy Lentz says that since 2015, the company has given more than $35,000 to politicians who have supported bills that are clearly anti-transgender youth. As a result, the company's products will be banned at the Stonewall until it stops donating to these legislators.
Gay rights pioneer, AIDS activist Yvonne Ritter shares a personal experience in Stonewall riots
A gay rights pioneer and AIDS activist turns 70 this week. When Yvonne Ritter was 18, she celebrated her birthday at the Stonewall Inn on the night of the riots.
Ritter, who is transgender, was arrested and thrown into a police van. She would go on to become a nurse, an AIDS activist and medical reformer who saved hundreds of lives - but first, that night, she had to talk her way out of police custody. Click here for her story.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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