History was made as J. Christopher Neal stepped out as NYC Pride's first out fluid bisexual grand marshal, one of four chosen for this year's Pride March.
A bisexual educator and artist, Neal leads FluidBiDesign, an organization focused on creating safe spaces for "fluid men of African Descent" to have conversations on their fluid sexualities.
"It was exciting and a real honor to be asked to participate in this year's Pride March, for both myself and my very young organization FluidBiDesign, especially as the first ever openly 'fluid' bi-identified Grand Marshal," Neal told The Advocate.
"NYC Pride has a storied history rooted in the rich soils and traditions of resistance and rebellion, and Bi-identified people have been at the center of that history in the U.S. as partners and organizers in the struggle for sexual and gender rights."
The decision to choose a bisexual grand marshal appears to be in response to last year's scrutiny over alleged bisexual erasure. In 2014, NYC pride came under fire for hosting three grand marshals representing the gay, lesbian, and transgender community without any bisexual representation.
After conversations with bisexual activists, a NYC Pride organizer says they came to an understanding with representatives of the bisexual community, citing its long history with Pride.
"Our organization's mission is producing LGBT Pride events that inspire, educate, commemorate and celebrate our diverse community -- and bisexual people are a key part that mission," David Studinski, volunteer Pride March organizer, told The Advocate last year.
"I've engaged in great conversations with Faith Cheltenham and Larry Nelson in recent days, and want to reiterate that the bisexual community has a home at NYC Pride 2014. As Larry carries on Brenda's torch at the March, we look forward to bisexual community participation at our entire event series, especially our rally on June 27. I'm excited to continue dialogue with key leaders and community members as we look to 2015 and beyond."
It's worth noting that a bisexual woman, Brenda Howard, who is affectionately known as the "Mother of Pride", organized the first Pride Parade. "This honor and recognition has taken 45 years to come," Neal said.
"Despite the fact that Brenda Howard the original organizer of the Pride March was herself an openly bi-identified woman, Bi-identified people have had to struggle against a fear, marginalization, and erasure to be visible and included, both inside the LGBTQ community and out. So, stepping into this opportunity was a no-brainer for me, and above all an opportunity to put out a call to action to the Bi-community, we must be seen, and we must be visible."
Fellow grand marshals Ugandan activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, Sir Ian McKellen, and Sir Derek Jacobi, accompanied Neal in leading NYC Pride 2015.