As many of us have watched the rights that we have fought so passionately for attempt to be stripped away from us, hitting the streets for Pride this year is more important to our community than ever. Every revolution needs a leader, and the Managing Director of NYC Pride, Chris Frederick is at the forefront for the numerous events for NYC Pride. We will rally, we will march, we will party, and we will dance! Chris sat down to talk with me about what Pride this year means, what he has planned that is different from years past, and exactly why it is more important than ever that we stand up and march!
This is about to be the biggest Pride’s yet! Between the celebrities you have performing for NYC Pride and the even larger meaning behind this year’s events. Are you ready to pull off one of the most historic NYC Pride’s ever? Yes! I think we are trying to build out the frame work and the programming as we build out to World Pride in 2019 as well as the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall. This was a big year for us to set the tone for what 2019 will most likely look like. That is why you are seeing so many artists and so many people aligning up with us this year.
You have artists like Patti LaBelle, to Teegan and Sara, to Nelly Furtado, to Deborah Cox, so you are going to be going across the board in terms of artists and performers. How have you curated such a diverse and high profile group of artists? I think it was really important for us to create a roster that was diverse and inclusive. One of the challenges that I always faced with the Pier Dance is that it never felt like a space where everyone could come together and celebrate Pride. It felt very segmented to a very specific group of the community, and not representative of everyone in the LGBT community. You kind of have to step back and think of what everyone that is part of who makes up this LGBT community would want to be a part of. I have done this long enough to know what people want and what people demand from an event. I think a lot of it is knowing who your audience is and also knowing who your audience could potentially be when we are reaching out to certain artists.
Now more than ever, Pride is absolutely crucial, with some cities making the event much more of a “march” again, as opposed to a “parade”. How do you feel about the evolution of Pride this year? Well I think in New York, the March has always been an actual march, that has not really changed. There is a much more serious tone that is happening with Pride events across the country, and rightly so. We are entering into a time where our rights are being diminished every single day and I think that that needs to be noted. At the same time, I think you need to balance this kind of Resistance movement with this celebration of identity. No single movement is going to make a stronger point; you have to have both. There is going to be a segment that is going to want to speak to the issues about what is going on in the world today, but I also think that there is going to be a segment that is going to want to come out and be wild, crazy and fun. Even in the depths of the AIDS crisis, there was still an element of a celebration of one’s identity and of Pride. I think it’s about balancing that.
On the serious side of things, one of the big things we are doing is taking the rally back into the streets. It was so important to us to make that event more grassroots. In the last couple of years, we have had it at Pier 26, but it did not feel authentic and it did not feel like it worked, it just felt like one big stage experience. We wanted to take the rally back into the streets, have people talking into megaphones about the issues and have it feel a little more authentic in it’s approach. I think that is so important. There are alot of issues that are not getting a lot of attention either. I think only just know you are starting to see the Chechnya murders of LGBT citizens being talked about, but it’s not getting nearly the kind of mainstream attention that it should be getting. The murders of trans people are up, it’s actually the worst year for trans murders on record. There are many things we need to be talking about and definitely speaking on.
Do you think that the community is ready to push back on the establishment that is currently in place to assure that our rights are not violated? I think that there is a segment of the community that is willing to be out there and speaking about the issues. I think that was has felt different over the last couple of years is that the community has not felt as united as it did in the late 90s and the early 2000’s. It feels as though we cannot all agree on where we stand on all of the various issues and I think that is a real problem. I think that the Republicans won because while they may not have agreed on each others stances, they all could agree that they wanted to defeat this person. That is why they won. Whereas with Democrats and liberals, a lot of times, if you don’t agree with everything, then you are not with us. I think that that way of thinking has caused a fractured approach that could be dangerous to us moving forward.
Politically, Pride is getting more attention this year than almost ever before. Having the balance you mention is so critical. Did it ever cross your mind that pride should not be a celebration at all? I don’t think so. I think that everyone internally knows the power of pride and what we produce. There was never a question of whether we should or should not produce pride. The discussions are more about what is our approach and what is the narrative this year. I think that you can still accomplish giving attention to all of the various opinions by producing a wide array or programming that fits all of the ideas of what Pride should be.
Look, you have Deborah Cox and Patti LaBelle performing; the boys are showing up! (laughs) i hope so! You know, that was the hope. I really wanted to create a space that everyone could identify at least one part of their identity with, and with what they enjoy.
Where do you think your internal passion for this event comes from? You are now in charge of orchestrating one of the most politically charged pride ever. You know, I don’t know for certain. I think it comes from growing up in Ohio, living in rural America. I think that I have always been drawn to the Pride experience, just because of how I see how it brings people together. It is really unique and it is really the only time that we can all come together as one community and really show up. To have our voices be heard and really feel committed to something much larger.