NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A week of Pride celebrations culminated with Sunday’s massive march through Manhattan.
More than 1 million people were expected to be there to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and the birth of the gay rights movement.
It was a joyous celebration of individuality, pride and hard-won civil rights.
The World Pride March in New York kicked off at noon on Fifth Avenue and 26th Street, marking a day of parades, celebrations and causes all over the world.
“We’re finally, we’re moving a step forward, you know? There’s a lot still to do, we’re not there yet, but this is a celebration where, like, screaming that you’re gay is actually finally a celebration and not a bullying or a pointing finger against you,” one parade goer said.
“For a long time, we were very repressed and wouldn’t, couldn’t come out, couldn’t be ourselves, and this way, we are celebrating with all the world. We’re celebrating with gay, trans, lesbian, everybody, and it’s very inclusive this year,” one Long Island woman said.
Watch: World Pride March Kicks Off In New York:
Here in New York, more than 150,000 marchers were expected to participate, which is twice as many as in 2018.
PHOTOS: Celebrating Pride
During the parade, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation ending the “gay and trans panic” defense, which allowed a defendant to argue their emotional distress about the victim’s sexuality was a justification or excuse for a violent crime.
Web Extra: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Ends Gay And Trans Panic Defense:
Back in 1969, bar patrons at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, rioted against police, tired of the constant raids, harassment and prosecution.
It is widely considered to be the most important event leading to the gay rights liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in America.
“From the very first day, it was, ‘We’re going to take back our identity. We’re no longer going to allow society to label us. We will be out, loud and proud, and in your face,'” Mark Segal, founder of the Philadelphia Gay News, said.
Tree Sequoia was at the Stonewall Inn, which is now a national monument, in 1969.
“The first march was the beginning. Who knew 50 years later it would be the biggest event in New York City?” Sequoia told CBS2’s Dave Carlin, adding, “I was 30 years old then and I am 80 years old now and I’m still working there.”
Watch: Crowds Flood Streets For World Pride March:
Pride events were scheduled all day Sunday throughout the city, with people from all over the country and all over the world taking part.
“This is why we’ve struggled and fought for so long. Some of us made it and some of us feel it today. All of the struggle was the right thing to do,” Vincent McGarth, from Scottsdale, Arizona, said.
“It’s been an amazing weekend. We’ve come all the way to New York City from Puerto Rico. It’s beautiful to see the diversity and all the expressions of love. We’re so excited to be wrapping it up here. It’s the center of the world,” Omar Negron told CBS2’s Reena Roy.
“I’m actually very excited. I’m happy that I’m here. It’s my first time coming to pride this year,” added Teddie Wilson, who was visiting from Connecticut.
The “Queen of Pop,” herself, Madonna performed at Pride Island on Pier 97. Other singers like Melissa Etheridge hit the stage in the heart of Times Square for the Pride closing party.
“To me, this is what heaven looks like. Everybody loving one another, everybody included,” said Patricia Clark, who was visiting from Atlanta.
Of course, many, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, acknowledged that as far as the LGBTQ community has come, there’s still a long way to go.
“We need to fight for each other. We need to fight for a society that truly loves and embraces all. I hope in these last days you have felt the love and you have felt the possibility. World Pride is not just a celebration. It’s an example of the world that we should live in,” de Blasio said.