The 1969 Stonewall riots galvanized gay liberation activists. Among them was Craig Rodwell, owner of New York’s Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop. He proposed to the 1969 Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations:
… that a demonstration be held annually… in New York City to commemorate the 1969 spontaneous demonstrations on Christopher Street [to] be called CHRISTOPHER STREET LIBERATION DAY.
The proposal was approved and what we now know as the New York Pride March was born.
The first March took place in 1970, on the one-year anniversary of Stonewall. Despite concerns about carrying signs featuring gay-themed messages through the streets of Manhattan, hundreds heeded the call to commemorate the riots and walked up Sixth Avenue to Central Park.
The March now takes place on the last Sunday in June. Over the years it has remained rooted in the heritage of Stonewall, while raising public awareness around LGBTQ causes including AIDS and marriage equality. It has also become an unparalleled celebration of LGBTQ pride.
Last year, more than 40,000 people marched down Fifth Avenue along with some notable New Yorkers, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The posters in this exhibit are from the New York March. Also included are select posters from other cities and countries. All are from the Poster Collection of The Center’s National History Archive.
Robert Grill, Curator