PHOTOS: The Rally Kicks Off Pride Weekend in NYC

New York City's 45th Annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Rally launched the weekend with Michelle Visage, Demi Lovato, Sharon Needles, and Betty Who.



While many of the rioters from that night fell victim to drugs or the AIDS crises in the ’80s, Martin Boyce and Danny Garvin are two of less than twenty confirmed survivors, calling themselves the Stonewall Veterans. They’ve been immortalized in David Carter’s Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution, saluted in the PBS documentary Stonewall Uprising and have been invited as guest speakers to participate in discussions on the gay rights movement over the four decades since. And on days like today, when NYC Pride takes to the streets and the riots’ anniversary is marked by the Pride Parade, which noncoincidentally ends on Christopher street right next to Stonewall, their contributions to the gay rights movement is brought to the forefront once again.

AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) is an international direct action advocacy group working to impact the lives of people with AIDS (PWAs) and the AIDS pandemic to bring about legislation, medical research and treatment and policies to ultimately bring an end to the disease by mitigating loss of health and lives. ACT UP was effectively formed in March 1987 at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New York. Larry Kramer was asked to speak as part of a rotating speaker series, and his well-attended speech focused on action to fight AIDS. Kramer spoke out against the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), which he perceived as politically impotent. Kramer had co-founded the GMHC but had resigned from its board of directors in 1983. According to Douglas Crimp, Kramer posed a question to the audience: "Do we want to start a new organization devoted to political action?" The answer was "a resounding yes." Approximately 300 people met two days later to form ACT UP. James and Mathew, activists with ACT UP New York, shared their impassioned views on current events.

Carl Siciliano is a nationally recognized advocate and provider for homeless LGBT youth who has been dedicated to this population since 1994. His programs have been widely recognized for their quality and innovation.From 1994 to 2001, Siciliano worked as the Director of Homeless Youth Services for Safe Space NYC Inc. During that time, he created an innovative continuum of services for homeless teens, including a 24-hour drop-in center, a citywide street outreach program, a scattered site emergency housing program, and a residential program for HIV-positive teens. The federal government officially designated Siciliano’s program a "Special Project of
National Significance.”

In 2002, Siciliano founded the Ali Forney Center (AFC), which has grown to become the nation’s largest and most comprehensive housing program for homeless LGBT youth. The Ali Forney Center offers emergency housing, transitional housing, a drop-in center, a vocational/educational center and a mix of supportive services that help LGBT youth become successful, independent adults. AFC has been recognized for its exceptional work by various organizations including Gay Men’s Health Crisis (Humanitarian Award, 2004), the Anti Violence Project (Courage Award, 2006), the Empire State Pride Agenda (Community Service Award, 2006) and the Brooklyn Lambda Independent Democrats (LID Award, 2007.) Siciliano's work has also received extensive coverage in local and national print and broadcast media. In 2002, he was named by OUT magazine as one of the 100 Outstanding Gay Achievers. His work has also been recognized by the Stonewall Democrats of NYC in 2006, and in 2007 he was awarded the Brooke Astor Service Award, which is given to someone who is relentless in his or her dedication to the city of New York and who has contributed substantially to its enrichment. Today Siciliano continues to fight for the rights and empowerment of homeless LGBT youth through the growth and outreach of the Ali Forney Center.