Gay Pride Parade, New York City, June 28, 2009
Artist: James Estrin
Citation: James Estrin, Gay Pride Parade, New York City, June 28, 2009. Photograph, New York Times. Courtesy Redux Pictures.
Rights Holder: New York Times. Courtesy Redux Pictures.
Engage! Theme: Community
This is a documentary photograph by James Estrin, a staff photographer for the New York Times. The photo, along with others of the parade depicting both its participants and spectators, accompanied an article about New York Governor David Patterson’s support for legislation regarding gay marriage that was printed in the Times on June 29, 2009.
Gay Pride is an annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) identity. It is typically held in June in the United States and at other times of the year around the world and marked by a parade, among other events.
Gay Pride began in response to the Stonewall Riots in New York’s Greenwich Village in June 1969. All along, Gay Pride has been characterized as a colorful and very public means of voicing and embracing one’s sexual orientation, as well as a venue for growing political activism around gay rights and the AIDS epidemic.
The rainbow flag, designed by artist Gilbert Baker, appeared for the first time as the symbol of Gay Pride in San Francisco in 1978. Originally of eight colors (now six), each stood for a different element related to LGBT identity: hot pink for sexuality; red for life; orange for healing; yellow for the sun; green for nature; blue for art; indigo for harmony; and violet for spirit.
In his photo, Estrin has captured the truly diverse nature of the Gay Pride community. It is not made up of all white men, a stereotype held by many. Rather, there are different races, ethnicities, genders, and ages participating in the parade, suggesting not only the diversity of the LGBT community but also of those who support their rights.
How would you describe this crowd? In what ways do they identify as a group? In what ways are they different from one another?
What is the general mood of the crowd? Do you think this group is on the streets of New York for a protest march or a celebratory parade? Why? What is the difference in your mind between the two? What does each look like? Can they be one and the same?
Where is the photographer positioned? How does the angle of the photograph make you feel in relation to the crowd? This photograph was taken by a staff photographer at the New York Times to accompany a story about gay rights. How do you think he wanted the reader/viewer to feel about this parade?
Further Discussion Questions and Activity Ideas:
Despite the positive mood of the crowd in this photograph, this particular community—the LGBT community—has experienced a great deal of discrimination. The community is inclusive of anyone who supports LGBT rights, but tends to be made up of people excluded from other communities. They have come together on this particular occasion to publicly celebrate and demonstrate their support for their identity. What communities do you belong to? How do those communities identify themselves publicly? As part of a community, have you ever participated in a protest march or a celebratory parade? Get together and think about a cause you believe in, and decide whether a parade or a protest march would be more effective in getting your voice heard. Write a justification about your decision or design a flier to announce the event to other members of your community.
This photograph was taken by a New York Times photographer to document the event and accompany a story in the newspaper. The parade itself is an act of civic engagement by a particular community. However, by virtue of publishing the photograph, is the photographer also complicit in an activist effort to promote gay rights? Why or why not? Think about a community that you believe in but may not belong to; how can you show your support for this community?