On the Stage and In the Street, PRIDE Month Has Many Tales to Tell

Activities Roundup Compiled by Scott Stiffler

Featured Events in This Order:

NYC Pride March / Pride Pop-Up on W. 22nd St. / Reclaim Pride Coalition’s 2023 Queer Liberation March / Ballroom in Focus Exhibit at Chelsea Market / The Golden Girlz Live! / Lady Bunny’s Don’t Bring the Kids and Leola’s Lady Land Lounge / District Defined: Streets, Sex, and Survival  / Radical Joy Ball at the Whitney  / The Ninth Annual Queerly Festival 

The NYC Pride March 2023: Noon to ? on Sunday, June 25 | Not even the Village Halloween Parade can best this annual event in terms of scope, style, and delicious visual spectacle. Two-time Tony Winner Billy Porter (he/him) and British asexual activist Yasmin Benoit (she/her) are among the Grand Marsalls–and over 75 percent of marching groups (of which there are many) are non-profit organizations. And talk about a big tent: Marchers represent everything and everyone under the sun, from political, progressive, and LGBTQ+ (aka human rights) organizations to corporate contingents to faith-based groups to muscled, beaded, bedazzled dancers from your favorite gay bar, fabulously floating by (literally, on a float). This year’s route begins at 25th Street and Fifth Ave. From there, according to event organizers, “Marchers will proceed south on 5th Avenue before heading west on 8th Street. After crossing over 6th Avenue, the March will continue on Christopher Street passing the Stonewall National Monument. It will then turn north on 7th Avenue, passing the New York City AIDS Memorial, before dispersing in Chelsea at 16th Street and 7th Avenue.” The dispersal area covers W. 16th to 19th Sts., from Seventh to Eighth Aves. Whether participants beat feet to a watering hole or home–or just spend some time milling about in the general vacinity–the influx of marchers means it will be a lively day (and night) in West Chelsea. For more info on the NYC Pride March 2023, click here.

Map out a plan to see the Pride March: Sun., June 25. Photo courtesy of NYC Pride | Heritage of Pride Inc.

The West 22nd Open/Shared Street Committee’s Pride Pop-Up: Saturday, June 24, 2pm-7pm on West 22nd Street between Seventh & Eighth Aves. | See the below flyer for details.

Reclaim Pride Coalition’s 2023 Queer Liberation March: Sunday, June 25, 2pm from Foley Square | As the eyes of the world cast their gaze upon NYC in June of 2019 with extra intensity—NY State hosted World Pride and the Stonewall Inn marked 50 years since events in and near its environs sparked the modern gay rights movement—the scrappy Reclaim Pride Coalition (RPC) found its own right time/right place moment, launching an alternative to the Heritage of Pride (HOP) March. Fed up with HOP’s overly cozy relationship with major corporations, omnipresent police presence, and celebratory spirit that came at the expense of pressing human rights issues in (and yes, beyond) the queer community, RPC’s countermarch put the kibosh on corporate sponsors, festive floats, and barriers that kept spectators from becoming spontaneous participants. Many poo-pooed the effort—but on the day in question, some 45,000 marched with RPC, proving there was a hunger for a more progressive way to spend the last Sunday in June. Flash forward a full half-decade later, and RPC’s 2023 Queer Liberation March marks the fifth annual iteration of the event with the theme “Trans and Queer, Forever Here!”

“The annual march is sure to be loud, emotional & determined, all while remaining a peaceful protest (reactionary columns of lawless police units notwithstanding),” say the organizers, who also note: “RPC calls the QLM a people’s march, organized to represent all those who fall under the umbrella, “LGBTQIA2S+”, ie, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit + Gender Non-conforming, Non-binary & our allies… On the last Sunday of June (6/25) 2023, Queer communities in NYC will gather at 2pm for a gay & raucous rally in Foley Square, followed by a non-violent march through lower Manhattan, ending in Washington Square Park. The title Trans and Queer, Forever Here! conveys our communities’ timeless truth—with all the beautiful diversity of identities and expressions they contain—that we have always been part of the human experience, that we remain central to the woven story of human history, and that we will persist into the future…” For more information on the march and its organizers, click here.

Image via Google Arts & Culture.

Ballroom in Focus: On Public View in the Main Concourse of Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Ave. entrance) Thursday, June 22 to Sunday, June 25 (10am to 8pm Daily) and Always On View Via Google Arts & Culture Digital Exhibition. | This pop-up exhibit beckons you to the brick and mortar location of Chelsea Market, to view roughly 50 enlarged and printed photographs. The carefully curated collection does its job: Pique interest in the rare and plentiful photos featured in Ballroom in Focus, the first-ever digital archive of ballroom curated by its originators (aka elders). It includes 25+ stories, 120+ videos, and 1,800+ images—1,000 of which are never-before-seen photos from the personal collections of ballroom icons and legends of an art form rooted in the Black and Latino LGBTQ+ community. Google Arts & Culture compliments this material with dozens of audio and video recordings that accompany the photos, providing the exhibit with unique context and perspective. Google Arts & Culture, FYI, is an online platform offering millions of high-res images of artifacts, artworks, and exhibitions—allowing cultural organizations to share their treasures with a global audience. In the case of Ballroom in Focus, Destination Tomorrow (a Bronx-based LGBTQ+ service provider) and Ballroom Throwbacks (a resource comprised of ballroom experts & elders) are the organizations that give the exhibit its authenticity—and the bulk of its raw material. There’s a multitude of ways visitors can consume that material: Exploring by Era sees ballroom evolve through the decades, while Exploring by Icons lets you meet “the legends who built the base” in an intimate, one-at-a-time manner. You can also zero in on the undisputed birthplace of ballroom. “Ballroom is global,” notes the exhibit, “but its roots are in NYC.” The dive gets even deeper when looking back at the West Village: “The NYC neighborhood was home to the Ballroom community,” exhibit notes exclaim. Elsewhere in the collection, Learn from the Founding Mothers centers on Black and Brown trans women as “the remarkable pioneers who established Ball Culture and house structures.” Explorers can also comb through “Best Ballroom Moments” (from throwback fashion to must-see milestones) and go “Behind Ballroom Categories” to view Realness, Face, Vogue, and Vouge Fem as “ways of expressing how you ‘pass’ in society.” All along the way, Ballroom in Focus never loses sight of the fact that the art form’s enduring impact on fashion, music, dance, and drama remains rooted in the self-expression of Black and Latino members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The Golden Girlz Live at 7pm & 9pm: Thursday, June 22 through Saturday, June 24 at Red Eye (355 W. 41st St. btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) | Demented drag queen Sherry Vine, so funny in last week’s performance of Everybody’s Girl, returns to that solo show’s host venue with comedy cohorts Jackie Beat, Drew Droege, and Sam Pancake. Together, the four-man ensemble behind the West Coast smash hit Golden Girlz Live brings that tribute show to NYC for the first time ever. Tickets for the six-performance run are going fast ($30 general admission, $40 premium), so by all means click here and secure your spot for this drag-centric spin on one of the all-time great sitcoms.

Lady Bunny’s Don’t Bring the Kids and Leola’s Lady Land Lounge at The Green Room 42 (570 10th Ave. at W. 42nd St., 4th floor of Yotel) and via livestream | Twinks and bears and DILFs (Oh, my!) must have spent an inordinate amount of time rubbing their lucky rabbit’s feet this spring—how else to explain the Pride Month presence of NYC hometown gal Lady Bunny each and every Tuesday night in June? Well, savvy booking on the part of host venue The Green Room 42 might have had something to do with it. Either way, Bunny’s been pulling in the crowds (and raking in the lettuce, we hope) during the run of her new show, the very appropriately titled, very adult, Don’t Bring the Kids. You’ve got two more chances to catch the latest foul-mouthed creation from the legendary drag queen before the show’s current run closes. And catch it you should—because in addition to all of the filthy parody songs, dirty jokes, self-deprecating humor, and risqué audience interaction you rightfully expect, this trampy Lady manages to put on the plate several unexpected offerings, such as one particular number devoid of dirty jokes and played sans irony. Sandwiched between her tried and true dark blue material, Bunny’s towering vocals and the song’s timeless message are warmly received.

Poster courtesy of the artist & The Green Room 42

The remaining performances of “Lady Bunny: Don’t Bring the Kids” are at 7pm, Tuesday, June 20 & 27 at The Green Room 42 (570 Tenth Ave. at W. 42nd St. on the fourth floor of Yotel). For reservations (from $22.50 + $4.85 fee), click here. If you purchase a livestream ticket, the link will be sent out 30 minutes prior to the show. At showtime, the link will be sent out for a second time to any last-minute ticket buyers. All sales are final. No transfers or refunds.  To preview the venue’s menu, click here. To visit the artist’s website, click here.

Also at The Green Room 42, Leola’s Lady Land Lounge stars feisty senior citizen and “redneck lesbian legend” Leola, the creation of writer/performer/semi-redneck, Will Nolan. The show is performed on Thursday, June 22, 7pm. For artist info, click here. It’s winningly described as “one part talk show, one part variety show, and a whole lot of giggles, plus lots of audience participation, lame prizes, and slightly used snacks.” For tickets (from $19), click here.

Photo Exhibition | District Defined: Streets, Sex, and Survival on view from Thursday, June 22 Through Sunday, July 9 at 401 Gallery (401 W. 14th St.) | Sunday through Wednesday, 12-9pm and Thursday through Sunday, 12-10pm | Meatpacking (the BID of the Meatpacking District) has collaborated with NYC-based human rights activist and election reformer Tim Hayes and the American LGBTQ+ Museum to create this first-of-its-kind photography exhibition that dives deeply into the Meatpacking District’s rich history of queer nightlife from the late ’80s and into the ’90s.

Eight visionary artists are featured, with the work of Lynsey Addario, Jill Freedman, Lola Flash, Efrain Gonzalez, T.L. Litt, Joseph Rodríguez, Katsu Naito, and Catherine McGann revealing their perspectives of this pivotal time in history. Works from Spencer Tunick and Richard Young are also featured, including Young’s portrait of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, in which Freddie is adorned in a Mineshaft T-shirt (referencing the gay BDSM and leather bar once located in the District). “With this exhibit,” declare the organizers, “we aim to pay homage to the District’s rich history while acknowledging the hardships and struggles that shaped it, resurrecting a feeling that defined the time period and providing visitors with an opportunity to observe the neighborhood’s evolution.”

A variety of experiences await viewers alongside the expansive photo exhibition’s three-week run. Local coffee shop Terremoto (328 W. 15th St.) is on site with a coffee bar, daily from 8am to 4pm. In the evenings, there will be drinks and happy hour programming such as artist talks, panels, live music, and DJ sets. The Opening Night Party takes place on Thurs. June 22, 6:30-10pm. RSVP here. There will be DJ sets on Sat. June 24, 7-9pm: Boston Chery; Thurs. June 29, 6- 8pm: Rose Kourts; Sat. July 1, 7-9pm: Theoretic; Thurs. July 6, 6-8pm: Niyah West; and Sat. July 8, 7-9pm: MARJ. Live music will be presented on Friday, June 23/30 and July 7. For more info, click here.  

Radical Joy Ball: Thursday, June 22, 5–6pm at the Whitney (99 Gansevoort St.) | The Whitney and community partner ADAPT Community Network host Radical Joy Ball in the Museum’s Theater. Museum visitors are welcome to join in celebrating and recognizing those within NYC’s ball community who are LGBTQ+, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color), and living with a disability. Drawing from New York’s ballroom culture traditions, say the organizers, “this event creates a space to celebrate the vibrancy of LGBTQ+ and disability pride through music, dance, and runway performances. For more info, including how to attend, click here.

The Ninth Annual Queerly Festival at The Kraine Theater (85 E. 4th St) and UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Pl.), through July 3 | You gotta love the Queerly Festival for doing right by June PRIDE Month—and then some. FRIGID New York’s annual celebration of LGBTQA+ artists won’t abandon ship when the clock strikes midnight on June 30. Oh, no. The roster of diversity on and off stage continues through July 3. Most performances will also be available to livestream from home.

A sampling of what still awaits: Tuesday, June 27 at 8pm, Affirm THIS! Is a fundraiser for trans liberation via a night of comedy, drag, music, and more presented by The Queerly Festival and What Will the Neighbors Say? Theatre Company. Trans and non-binary talent will help raise funds for The Trans Formations Project nationally and The Audre Lorde Project here in New York City. On July 1 and 2, The Ramón Show: Spiritual Cheerleading 101 is described as “drag mixed with Pee Wee’s Playhouse gone Puerto Rican.”

Drag king Ramone uses elements of dance parties, self-help seminars, and game shows to ensure you “come away from this show feeling better than when you arrived with a real deal extremely cool certificate proving you have completed this life-changing course.” Sold! Tickets ($25 in-person; $20 streaming) are available for advance purchase at www.frigid.nyc.


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