NEW YORK (WABC) -- The 53rd annual Pride March kicked off Sunday, bringing a fun-filled celebration of the LGBTQ+ community to New York City.
Thousands marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue to Greenwich Village, cheering and waving rainbow flags to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall uprising, where a police raid on a gay bar triggered days of protests and launched a movement for LGBTQ+ rights.
While some people whooped it up in celebration, many were mindful of the growing conservative countermovement to limit rights, including by banning gender-affirming care for transgender children,
"I'm not trying not to be very heavily political, but when it does target my community, I get very, very annoyed and very hurt," said Ve Cinder, a 22-year-old transgender woman who traveled from Pennsylvania to take part in the country's largest pride event.
"I'm just, like, scared for my future and for my trans siblings. I'm frightened of how this country has looked at human rights, basic human rights," she said. "It's crazy."
Parades in New York, Chicago and San Francisco are among events that roughly 400 Pride organizations across the U.S. are holding this year, with many focused specifically on the rights of transgender people.
Entertainers and activists, drag performers and transgender advocates are among the parade grand marshals embracing a unity message as new laws targeting the LGBTQ+ community take effect in several U.S. states.
"The platform will be elevated, and we'll see communities across the country show their unity and solidarity through these events," said Ron deHarte, co-president for the U.S. Association of Prides.
Annual observations have spread to other cities and grown to welcome bisexual, transgender and queer people, as well as other groups.
One of the grand marshals of New York City's parade is nonbinary activist AC Dumlao, chief of staff for Athlete Ally, a group that advocates on behalf of LGBTQ+ athletes.
"Uplifting the trans community has always been at the core of our events and programming," said Dan Dimant, a spokesperson for NYC Pride.
Many of this year's parades called for LGBTQ+ communities to unite against dozens, if not hundreds, of legislative bills now under consideration in statehouses across the country.
Lawmakers in 20 states have moved to ban gender-affirming care for children, and at least seven more are considering doing the same, adding increased urgency for the transgender community, its advocates say.
"We are under threat," Pride event organizers in New York, San Francisco and San Diego said in a statement joined by about 50 other Pride organizations nationwide. "The diverse dangers we are facing as an LGBTQ community and Pride organizers, while differing in nature and intensity, share a common trait: they seek to undermine our love, our identity, our freedom, our safety, and our lives."
Some parades, including the one in New York, planned beefed up security amid the upheaval.
The Anti-Defamation League and GLAAD, a national LGBTQ+ organization, found 101 anti-LGBTQ+ incidents in the first three weeks of this month, about twice as many as in the full month of June last year.
Friday night saw celebrations in Greenwich Village that reinforced the LGBTQ+ community's refusal to allow hate to win.
In a message earlier this week, Mayor Eric Adams said hateful actions of those will not overtake the city's support for the LGBTQ+ community.
"We love our community. We want you here. We want you to do business here. We want the nightlife here. We want you to be part of the energy of this great city. And I am just really proud of what this administration is doing and continue to do," Mayor Adams said.
Crews remained busy Saturday morning, making final arrangements, including painting the iconic crosswalk by Sheridan Square in rainbow.
We are your home for the NYC Pride March on Sunday, June 25. Watch the broadcast from noon until 3 p.m. on Channel 7 and anywhere you stream ABC7NY.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News