NEW YORK (WABC) -- Thousands of people - many decked in pride colors - lined the NYC Pride route through Manhattan on Sunday, cheering as floats and marchers passed by.
The celebration of pride came with glittering confetti, cheering crowds, fluttering rainbow flags, and new found fears about losing freedoms won through decades of activism.
The 52nd annual march in New York City took place just two days after one conservative justice on the Supreme Court signaled, in a ruling on abortion, that the court should reconsider the right to same-sex marriage recognized in 2015.
"We're here to make a statement," said 31-year-old Mercedes Sharpe, who traveled to Manhattan from Massachusetts. "I think it's about making a point, rather than all the other years like how we normally celebrate it. This one's really gonna stand out. I think a lot of angry people, not even just women, angry men, angry women."
The theme for this year's march was 'Unapologetically Us.'
The warning shot from the nation's top court came after a year of legislative defeats for the LGBTQ community, including the passage of laws in some states limiting the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity with children.
As anti-gay sentiments resurface, some are pushing for the parades to return to their roots - less blocks-long street parties, more overtly civil rights marches.
"It has gone from being a statement of advocacy and protest to being much more of a celebration of gay life," Sean Clarkin, 67, said of New York City's annual parade while enjoying a drink recently at Julius', one of the oldest gay bars in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.
As he remembers things, the parade was once about defiance and pushing against an oppressive mainstream that saw gays, lesbians and transgender people as unworthy outsiders.
"As satisfying and empowering as it may be to now be accepted by the mainstream," Clarkin said, "there was also something energizing and wonderful about being on the outside looking in."
New York's first Pride March, then called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, was held in 1970 to mark the first anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion, a spontaneous street uprising triggered by a police raid on a gay bar in Manhattan.
New York City parade spectator Jackie English said she and her fiancee Dana had yet to set a wedding date, but have a new sense of urgency.
"Now we feel a bit pressured," she said, adding they might "jump the gun a little sooner. Because, what if that right gets taken away from us?"
More than a dozen states have recently enacted laws that go against the interests of LGBTQ communities, including a law barring any mention of sexual orientation in school curricula in Florida and threats of prosecution for parents who allow their children to get gender-affirming care in Texas.
Several states have put laws in place prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in team sports that coincide with the gender in which they identify.
According to an Anti-Defamation League survey released earlier this week, members of LGBTQ communities were more likely than any other group to experience harassment. Two-thirds of respondents said they have been harassed, a little more than half of whom said the harassment was a result of their sexual orientation.
In recent years, schisms over how to commemorate Stonewall have opened, spawning splinter groups events intended to be more protest-oriented.
In New York City, the Queer Liberation March takes place at the same time as the traditional parade, billing itself as the "antidote to the corporate-infused, police-entangled, politician-heavy Parades that now dominate pride celebrations."
Despite the criticism of growing commercialism, a strong streak of activism was apparent among attendees this year.
"The recent overturning of Roe v. Wade has caused a very strong uproar about what went down," said Dean Jigarjian, 22, who crossed the river from New Jersey with his girlfriend to take part in the New York City parade. "So as you can see here, the crowd seems to be very energized about what could be next."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
The NYC Pride March broadcast special, co-hosted by Angelica Ross along with WABC's Ken Rosato, Lauren Glassberg and Sam Champion, will return for its sixth consecutive year on ABC 7 from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm ET on Sunday, June 26 as well on abc7NY.com, ABC News Live, and ABC7 New York's Connected TV Apps on streaming platforms Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku.