NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thousands of people turned out Friday night for an LGBT pride rally at Pier 26 in Hudson River Park.
As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, the mood at the rally was light and festive — a celebration of love and equality. But heavy hearts and a sense of sadness were still felt.
The owner and entertainment manager of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando were the guests of honor and spoke at the event. The names of the 49 people who were killed in a terrorist attack at the nightclub on Sunday, June 12, were read aloud.
There was moment of silence while the faces and names of those lost in the Orlando night club shooting flashed across the screen.
Barbara Poma, the owner of Pulse nightclub, called on the crowd to turn their grief into solidarity.
“I’m here today because I want you to know that Orlando and the world’s gay community are strong and united. We will not allow evil to prevail,” Poma said. “Now, while the world is watching, it is our time to show how love will conquer hate.”
Pulse nightclub entertainment manager Neema Bahrami echoed that same message.
“Allow the love to embrace you, so what I want you all to do right now for us in honor of the Pulse, Orlando, turn to the person next to you, give them a hug, and say, ‘My brother, my sister, I love you,’” Bahrami said.
As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, rally attendee Aja Faranda said some of her friends were scared in the wake of the Orlando massacre.
“I had to do a lot of convincing my friends that no, absolutely this year, this is the time that we need to go,” Faranda said.
But the rally is the very kind of the event that gives some members of the LGBT community a chance to breathe.
“Because here there is no, really no judging, everyone is who they are,” said Kelly Schuster.
Many New Yorkers at the rally told CBS2 it is important to show solidarity with the people of Orlando.
“As New Yorkers, we’re very prideful, and after even all the events that have been happening, we need to be here as a community,” said Paul Sirisuth.
“There’s definitely like you know deeper sadder undertones, but I think it’s good that we’re all coming together and consoling each other,” added Faranda.
“We will be here to feel love, with each other and for our community, because that’s how we come back,” said Blythe Nobleman of Hoboken. “We come back with love.”
Just hours before the rally Friday night, President Barack Obama issued an executive order designating the Stonewall Inn, and Christopher Park across the street in Greenwich Village, as a national monument.
It was there in 1969 where the modern gay rights movement began, with an uprising after police raided the gay bar. Obama said the monument would “tell the story of our struggle for LGBT rights” and of a civil rights movement that became a part of America.
“It is really honoring the Stonewall veterans, everyone who was here during riots, and all the activists, all the years later, everyone who just worked on the struggle for equality,” said Stonewall co-owner Stacy Lentz.
Around 1.6 million people attended the Pride March last year, and the turnout is expected to be even bigger this coming Sunday. More than 20,000 participants, 85 floats, bands, and 200 motorcycles are set to take part in the parade.