June 26, 2023
Dr. Bill's Journal: NYC Pride In Full Bloom!
Dr. William Kapfer READ TIME: 8 MIN.
Dr. William Kapfer spent the week before Pride at one event after another. Here are his journal entries.
LGBTQIA+ pride month bloomed in New York City this week, filling the city with epic parties and legendary celebrations–and a renewed, post-pandemic focus on the vigorous defense of equal rights for all people.
Indeed, New York's Pride March and festivities stood in high relief among the nations of the world as the largest event for freedom for the global citizen: the individual, no matter whom, or where, who is celebrated for their unique identity, and who we demand receive equal rights under the law of their land.
Yes, our march, like our city, was loud so that it may echo around the world to proclaim freedom!
Tuesday: Celebrating 40 Years of The Gay & Lesbian Center
The Gay & Lesbian Center has been a place of celebration and pride for all LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers since its inception in 1983. I have been a proud supporter of The Center for decades because the amazing work that the Chelsea-based organization has done for racial, gender, and economic justice has been a cornerstone of our movement.
And it was on full display at the annual Garden Party at Pier 76 at Hudson River Park on Tuesday, June 20.
The Center's 40th anniversary celebration included an evening of extraordinary performances, music, and special guests. The event celebrated the fact that it has been providing a wide range of essential services, resources, and support to LGBTQIA+ individuals, fostering inclusivity, advocacy, and empowerment for 40 years.
Through their programming, initiatives, and events like the Garden Party, The Center has created a welcoming and supportive space for the LGBTQIA+ community, promoting acceptance and equality for anyone who steps through their doors.
This year's Garden Party featured delicious, seasonal bites from a diverse selection of restaurants as the sun set on the majestic Hudson River. The celebration also included a host of friends and colleagues, including The Center's beloved Executive Director Glennda Testone, who has dedicated over 13 years of her life to The Center and their efforts to promote racial, gender, and economic justice for all LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers. Also in attendance were Brian Friedman, Director, Litigation and Regulatory Counsel at JetBlue Airways, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, and Eric Baker, Associate General Counsel at Starbucks Coffee Company–all vehement supporters of The Center's great mission.
Tuesday: 'I Like Ike!'
Following the garden party, we dashed over to see the play "Eisenhower: This Piece of Ground" at the Theater at St. Clements. In line with the theme of pride, we elected to see a play powered by two openly gay producers: the Tony and Olivier Award-winning producer, Tom Kirdahy (the widower of Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally) and Dennis Trufino, who also recently produced "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window," the second and last staged play by playwright Lorraine Hansberry, author of "A Raisin in the Sun."
Starring Tony-award winner, John Rubinstein ("Pippin," "Children of a Lesser God," Charlie & The Chocolate Factory"), the play brings our 34th President back to life in a straightforward, biographical drama that is filled with timely political lessons from a leader who strove to put country over party.
Wednesday: The Bernstein Annual Pride Event
On Wednesday Alliance Bernstein hosted "The Bernstein Annual Pride Event" on the 41st floor of their Avenue of the Americas offices in midtown. The inspiring celebration included a fireside chat with Geena Rocero, American model and transgender advocate, and our event host Anthony Thompson, Senior Financial Advisor at Bernstein Private Wealth Management. While on stage, Geena, the model and producer who started her career on the pageant circuit in her native Philippines, shared a glimpse into her new book "Horse Barbie: A Memoir", a candid story that recounts the pleasures and pitfalls of living openly.
One of the highlights for me was the mini-concert provided by The New York City Gay Men's Chorus. Their angelic voices provided much solace, and gave us all a soundtrack for the evening.
Thursday: The Mayor's Event
Thursday I attended New York City Mayor Eric Adams' Pride Month party. The LGBTQ+ Pride Reception was once again held on the lawn of Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side. As usual, the evening proved something of a who's who of LGBTQ+ elected officials and political activists. In an unexpected shoutout, Mayor Adams asked the first openly gay New York state senator, Tom Duane, to join him on the stage–a relationship reinforced by Adams, who was one of the first political leaders to provide his commitment by fighting for marriage equality.
By all accounts the Mayor appears committed to the LGBTQ community; in fact, just last year he announced a nearly $6.7 Million investment in new and expanded services for LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers. The funding included anti-discrimination legal services; family acceptance programs for LGBTQIA+ youth; transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary (TGNC/NB)-led nonprofits; and social services towards LGBTQIA+ youth homelessness.
Keep up the good work Mayor Adams!
Friday: Pride Live Stonewall Day 2023
Pride Live Stonewall Day 2023, Pride Live's Stonewall Day celebration, was one to remember. Taking place at Hudson Yards on Manhattan's West Side on Friday, the celebration was hosted by the poignant Angelica Ross, bold headliner Christina Aguilera, resident DJ Lina Bradford, with features from Mila Jam, the amazing BETTY and Mariyea.
Special remarks were eloquently delivered by writer and health advocate Chelsea Clinton, poet and comedian Alok Vaid-Menon, award-winning activist and author Raquel Willis, three-time SAG award-winning actress Dale Soules – best known for starring in "The Messenger" and portraying Frieda Berlin in "Orange Is the New Black," model, actress and activist Valentina Sampaio, and the stunning drag artist Julie J.
The event was unforgettable!
Pride Live is the social advocacy and community engagement organization for the LGBTQ+ community responsible for opening the new Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center (SNMVC). Set to be the first LGBTQIA+ visitor center within the National Park Service (NPS), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the center marks a landmark achievement and leap forward in American history. For years I have supported this initiative, and I will do so for years to come!
The SNMVC is scheduled to open in the summer of 2024 and will occupy nearly 3,700 square feet at 51 Christopher Street, between Waverly Place and 7th Avenue South in New York City.
When asked about Pride Live and its efforts to support the SNMVC, Ann Marie Gothard, President of the Pride Live Board, reiterated that, "Support from Pride Live activities help further the essential goal of raising funds and visibility, and creates a space for a more inclusive future–where every person can find inspiration and a sense of belonging."
With a mission to preserve, advance and celebrate the legacy of the Stonewall Rebellion, and the Stonewall National Monument, the SNMVC will serve as a beacon for generations to come, providing the unique opportunity to visit the very site where history was made, and where the fight for LGBTQ+ equality emerged with irrepressible determination.
I walk in step with this mission!
Although Pride Live takes place in New York, thanks to Google digital transmission, via their exclusive YouTube livestream, it was amplified to a global audience. Indeed, the livestreaming provided accessibility for everyone to enjoy.
The weekend ended with no less flair than when it began, and my heart was full with pride; but more than that, I felt even more determination to do all I can to ensure that the freedom we are so fortunate to have in America extend to the world beyond our borders. The time is now!