In 1994, so the story goes, Gilbert Baker, designer of the Rainbow Flag, and Brian Griffin, aka Harmonie Moore Must Die, were angry that the organizers of Stonewall's 25th anniversary event weren't allowing leather men or drag queens into the official ceremony.
Griffin had been working at Baker's shop, sewing a mile-long Rainbow Flag, when they discussed the situation. "Fuck it," Griffin remembers Baker saying. "Let's do our own thing." And so Drag March, which has become an official kick-off to NYC Pride weekend, was born.
This year's Drag March was dedicated to Baker, who died earlier this year. Griffin was right out in front as usual last night, looking fantastic in his Starship Enterprise headgear and leading cheeky chants like "We're here, we're queer, we're coming for your children!" More than a hundred drag queens and kings in all made the raucous journey across town from Tompkins Square Park to Stonewall Inn, the collective enthusiasm of the march for the most part undiminished by the pouring rain. In fact, the weather made the ritual playing of "It's Raining Men" all the more rowdy.
Other Drag March traditions were closely followed as well, from the singing, led by the Church Ladies For Choice, of "God is a Lesbian" immediately prior to stepping off from Tompkins Square; to the soaring and quite moving rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" that the whole crowd launched into at event's end in front of Stonewall. There was a modest NYPD escort along the entire route, including the 2017 version of the LGBTQ Squad Car, but unlike the climate 48 years ago, there was no tension between the two groups.