Roughly 1,000 people turned out for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Rally held in Manhattan’s Bryant Park on June 20.
With the gay marriage debate galvanizing the queer community across the nation, there were strangely few comments from the rally stage on the topic. Emceeing the rally was comedian Kate Clinton who did open the event, though, with a long riff on the topic and a poke or two at President George W. Bush.
“Apparently activist judges are alright if they make you president of the United States,” Clinton said referring to the right-wing complaint that “activist judges” in Massachusetts are imposing gay marriage on the nation.
Speakers at the four-hour rally included Candice Boyce, a past director of the African American Lesbians United for Societal Change and a grand marshal in this year’s Pride March which will step off at noon on June 27 on Fifth Avenue. Actor Harvey Fierstein, the other grand marshal, did not attend the rally.
The rally also featured longtime gay activist Marc Rubin, comedian Frank DeCaro, musicians, two speakers from a local AIDS group, and Betsy Driver, executive director of Bodies Like Ours, an intersex group, but much of the afternoon’s explicit political content came from Maurice O’Brian Franklin, a former staffer from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights group. Franklin exhorted the crowd to oppose the Bush administration and the religious right.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Franklin said, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, the slain civil rights leader. “Yes America, gay rights are civil rights… Today, I’m challenging the gay and lesbian community to wake up… Vote for the elected officials who have our interests on their agenda.”