Activists March Into the New Year at the Stonewall Inn

Organizer Qween Jean delivered remarks outside of the Stonewall Inn on New Year's Eve.
Donna Aceto

Surrounded by Rainbow Flags and Trans Flags, local LGBTQ activists held a New Year’s Eve celebration, rally, and march that started at the Stonewall Inn and proceeded through the streets of Manhattan during the early morning hours of New Year’s Day.

The event — dubbed “Last Ball of 2020” — attracted dozens of revelers who joined together for speeches that underscored a message of Black trans liberation and sent a reminder to the general public that Black trans lives matter. Organizers Qween Jean and Joel Rivera, who led numerous demonstrations down the stretch in 2020, were again leading the way as they closed out a tumultuous year and ushered the community into 2021.

A colorful display of flags lit up the street on New Year’s Eve.Donna Aceto

Demonstrators at the event held signs paying tribute to individuals such as Layleen Polanco, an out transgender woman who was left alone as she died in solitary confinement at Rikers Island last year, and the late Casey Goodson, Jr., a 22-year-old Black man who was killed by a police officer late last year in Ohio. Some in the crowd had their own musical instruments, including a drummer who had the words “Black Lives Matter” scrawled on a bass drum.

After a jubilant celebration and emotional speeches at Stonewall, individuals then marched along West Fourth Street to Sixth Avenue. Activists were later seen confronting police officers before continuing their march through the streets.

Joel Rivera was one of the event’s two organizers.Donna Aceto
Activists brought their message to the streets after celebrating at Stonewall.Donna Aceto
The community danced their way into 2021.Donna Aceto
Qween Jean took some time to celebrate the beginning of a new year.Donna Aceto
A drummer included a necessary message on a bass drum.

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