Lady Gaga electrified thousands of revelers who gathered in New York on Friday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the LGBTQ rights movement, exhorting the crowd to honor the past by using its “power” to extend and defend a half-century of progress.
Her warm-up speech and a subsequent rally, part of a series of World Pride events in New York this week, commemorated the so-called Stonewall uprising of June 28, 1969.
Early that morning, patrons of a Greenwich Village gay bar called the Stonewall Inn rose up in defiance of police harassment, triggering days of rioting. Their resistance gave birth to the national and global movement for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other queer people.
Lady Gaga, a Grammy Award-winner whose signature song “Born This Way” has become an LGBTQ anthem, fired up the crowd, which began gathering in the park and public square outside the Stonewall hours earlier.
Appearing with a rainbow-colored jacket and thigh-high boots, she declared that Stonewall was the moment when LGBTQ people said “enough is enough.”
“I may not, to some people, be considered a part of this community, even though I like girls sometimes. I would never degrade the fight you have endured,” she told the cheering crowd. “You have the power. You are so, so powerful, and I hope you feel that power today.”
Later the rally alternated between political speeches and block-party gaiety. Musical performances and rhythmic dancing rattled windows in the low-slung neighborhood. Drag queens sang ‘80s hits like “I’m So Excited” in between speeches by activists from countries such as Uganda and Chechnya.
U.S. politicians including presidential hopefuls Kirsten Gillibrand, one of New York state’s two U.S. senators, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also took the stage ahead of what organizers are calling the largest gay pride parade in history set for Sunday, when some 150,000 marchers and 4 million spectators are expected.