Many New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) couples are reveling in the fact that soon they won't have to drive to Connecticut, Massachusetts or Vermont to get hitched. Friday night's news is perfect timing for the weekend's Pride celebrations, which mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
Pride was born on June 27, 1969 during the Stonewall Riots, which stirred a protest after police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. This moment in history has been known to many as the start of the gay rights movement. Although most people know Pride for its Sunday parade, Pride Week 2011, which has a theme of "Proud and Powerful" this year, is a series of events celebrating the community’s presence, persistence and, of course, pride. Here are some of the most buzzed about events happening leading up to the parade:
On Thursday, the AIDS Service Center NYC hosts the Safer Sex in the City benefit from 6:30 to 10 P.M. The event at La Pomme in Chelsea will feature music and entertainment from the drag queen Manilla Luzon, the radio personality Vic Latino and the adult film star Savanna SAMSON. As part of National HIV Testing Day in June, the event promotes safer sex and HIV/AIDS awareness. General admission tickets -- limited to the over 21 set -- are $100. (VIP tickets run up to $1,500.)
Others will be commemorating Pride cinema-style at the Madison Avenue Baptist Church, which is hosting a screening of “For the Bible Tells Me So” from 7 to 10 P.M. The film, which explores the friction between religion and homosexuality, was nominated for the Grand Prize Jury at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and got an Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2007 Seattle International Film Festival. Tickets to the showing -- and the subsequent Q&A with its director Daniel Karslake -- are free.
Then, festivities move from the silver screen to the stage with a special performance of “Avenue Q” at New World Stages on Thursday. This Tony-winning musical tells stories of everyday life in the most colorful of ways: through puppeteering. Delving into love, lust and life, this show, in all its hilarity, is also a poignant tale of dealing with -- and finding a purpose in -- the real-world. Tickets start at $69.50, although if you use the promo code AQPROMO3 you can snag seats for $55.
On Friday night, Pride Week kicks it up a notch for the 20th Annual Dixon Place HOT! Festival of Queer Performance. A self-proclaimed celebration of queer culture, this fiery festival offers theater, dance, literature and more in a series of free and ticketed events running through August 6. Opening weekend attractions include “HOT! Opening Night Party Hosted By Anti-Diva” on Friday and “The Body Blend Series: Remixed N’ Homotized” on Saturday. With two venues and performances onstage seven nights a week, this festival will keep the party going long after the flames of June have fizzled out.
If it's sporty you're after, Front Runners will take a five-mile jog through Central Park on Saturday morning on their 30th annual, Front Runners Pride Run. Around the same time, the Knickerbocker Sailing Association launches its ninth annual Stonewall Regatta around the New York Harbor. Although registration is closed for both events, you can still show your spirit and support by cheering on participants from the sidelines.
Saturday afternoon, Photographing People on Location Photo Safari kicks off, a group photography class at which participants can learn the lay of the lens. Lessons run from 1 to 3 P.M. at the High Line elevated park, and registration is $100 per person. (Photo Safari NYC is offering a 25 percent discount to those registering in pairs with the code PROUD2011.)
Members and supporters of the L.G.B.T. community will also be taking to the streets on Saturday afternoon for the 19th annual Dyke March. The event, which organizers have explicitly classified as a protest march and not a parade, begins at 5 P.M. at Bryant Park on 42nd St. and 5th Ave. Marchers will make their way down 5th Ave. to Washington Square Park, all the while holding up signs with evocative slogans protesting discrimination, harassment and anti-L.B.T.Q. violence.
After perfecting your shutterbug and chanting skills, shuffle on over to Pier 54 and 13 St. at Hudson River Park for the ninth annual Rapture on the River: A Women’s Dance. From 3 to 11 P.M., Rapture ticketholders can enjoy comedy, catchy tunes, dancing and drinking, all in the company of fellow lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer-identified women. The event features DJ’s Susan Levine and Mary Mac, a wet T-shirt contest, and a happy hour from 3 to 4 P.M. Although tickets are available for $35 at the door, you can save by buying them in advance for $25.
Saturday evening, guys and gals alike can stop by the unveiling of “Queer. Punk.,” the new solo sculpture show from gay activist/artist Fernando Carpaneda. Carpaneda has played with texture and material to create clay pieces that feature subjects including hustlers, junkies, thieves and outcasts. The exhibition’s free opening night celebration runs from 6 to 11 P.M. on Saturday at The Leslie/Lohman Basement Annex. If you can't make it Saturday, the exhibition will be open daily through July 2 from 1 to 6 P.M. With catering by Kymara Happenings, music by Milo Rock and DJ Tiago, and a special performance by The Fabulous Gazelle, this art and entertainment event hosted by The Kymara Gallery and the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation should not be missed.
On Sunday, PrideFest, the city's 18th annual LGBT street fair, starts off the day right with marketed wares and musical fares. Performers at the street fair’s StageFest 2011 include indie-folk singer/songwriter Luthea Salom, the multi-talented performer Sean 360X and the House/R&B artist Dawn Tallman. The event runs from 11 A.M. to 7 P.M. and is free and open to the public.
Next comes the parade, which began 30 years ago as an annual demonstration of civil rights. The organizers of the March estimate 300,000 will be taking part in this year's Pride parade, which will feature floats, music and more as it makes its way from 36th St. and 5th Ave. to Christopher and Greenwich Streets. Some 500,000 will be watching the parade.
NYC Pride will recognize march participants who show particularly prominent pride with a number of awards for best use of decoration, music and theme. This year’s grand marshals are Dan Savage and Terry Miller of the It Gets Better Project and Rev. Pat Bumgardner of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York. The March starts at 12 P.M.
After the parade, head to Pier 54 for another round of dancing at Dance on the Pier. From 2 to 10:30 P.M., this celebration of community includes a two-for-one drink special during the first hour, DJ Ana Paula on the turntables and a special early performance by pop singer-songwriter Wynter Gordon. Fireworks follow over the Hudson River. Tickets are available for pre-order at $75 or at the door for $125. All Dance on the Pier proceeds benefit New York City’s LGBT Pride Week events and community organizations.