For the 26th year in a row, Pride Weekend in New York City began on Friday night: Drag queens assembled in Tompkins Square Park for their annual march across town to Stonewall Inn.
The Drag March tradition started in 1994 as a protest action after the organizers of the big official Pride March banned drag queens and leathermen from their 25th anniversary affair. Organized by the late Gilbert Baker (designer of the now-iconic Rainbow Flag), Brian Griffin (a.k.a. Harmonie Moore Must Die), and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Drag March remains an unsanctioned, unsponsored, and non-permitted event at which all are welcome.
This being the summer of the pandemic, however, turnout at the 2020 Drag March was light, especially when compared to last year's record crowd. Griffin had canceled the event back in April when COVID-19 was tearing through our city, only reinstating it two weeks ago, with almost no publicity, after seeing that the huge protests against racist police brutality hadn't resulted in a new wave of coronavirus cases. There was also a different drag event happening concurrently in Brooklyn, organized by Bushwig, that siphoned off some Drag March regulars.
Even with fewer marchers, the protest was still quite a spectacle, with dozens of queens parading across town in outfits that ranged from sexy to bizarre, provocative to elegant, disco classics blasting from a portable speaker the whole way. Masks, of course, were the hot new accessory this year, and all of the new outdoor dining set-ups along East 9th and Christopher Streets outdoor provided a built-in audience eager to cheer.
The evening ended in traditional Drag March fashion with a full-throated singalong of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in front of Stonewall Inn.