Pulse Owner Heads to NYC, as Obama Designates Stonewall National Monument

     (CN) — The owner of Pulse nightclub in Orlando where the largest shooting massacre in the United States occurred will ride on the lead float to kick off the nation’s largest gay-pride parade in Manhattan on Sunday.
     Barbara Poma and her entertainment manager, Neema Bahrami, also will be at the city’s Pride Rally on Friday at Hudson River Park’s Pier 26.
     Their trip from Orlando to the Big Apple was donated by Delta Airlines, according to a statement Thursday by James Fallarino, a spokesman for the city’s pride festival.
     Pride revelers are encouraged to honor the 49 victims of the June 12 massacre by wearing orange, because of the “connection to both Orlando and the movement to end gun violence,” Fallarino said.
     The rally also will begin with a reading of the victims’ names, he announced.
     The lead float for Sunday’s parade will be surrounded by color guards from Scouts for Equality, who are expected to carry 49 orange flags with a rainbow strip in the victims’ honor. Behind them will be marchers carrying banners emblazoned with #WeAreOrlando and #SomosOrlando.
     The march begins at noon Sunday at 36th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. It’ll then wend its way south to Christopher Street, the gay mecca of Greenwich Village and home to the newly christened Stonewall National Monument.
     President Barack Obama established the monument Friday in Christopher Park, a triangle-shaped bit of green across the street from the historic gay bar, Stonewall Inn.
     Both Stonewall Inn and the park first earned National Historic Landmark status in 2000 for their association with the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, which inspired a national LGBT civil rights movement.
     Though it measures roughly one-ninth of an acre, Christopher Park is one of the only public open spaces in this part of the city. It was created after a large fire in 1835 devastated an overcrowded tenement on the site.
     Several federal and New York officials applauded the designation this morning of the nation’s first ever monument to LGBT history.
     Noting his role in championing, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler likened Stonewall’s connection to the modern LGBT civil rights movement with Selma and racial justice, and Seneca Falls and women’s rights.
     “We are faced with painful reminders daily of how much further we must go to achieve true equality and tolerance for the LGBT community, but honoring and preserving the stories of all of the diverse participants in Stonewall in our National Park System is a clear symbol of how far we have come,” Nadler said in a statement.
     U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer added their voice to the refrain. “Now, for the first time, when the National Park Service tells the story of the American people – our culture, our history, our diversity – that story will include voices from our LGBT community,” said Gillibrand.
     Designation of the monument comes at a critical time for the gay-rights movement after Omar Mateen executed 49 men and women, ranging in age from 19 to 49, on June 12 at the gay bar Pulse in Orlando.
     Though Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a 911 call before he was gunned down by police, many witnesses have spoken out in the wake the shooting to say Mateen was a regular at the bar.
     Mateen had reportedly been outraged after discovering that a three-way in which he was involved included an HIV-positive partner.
     Pride in New York City began as a nonprofit organization in 1984 and has since become a more commercial affair.
     The first march for equality began in 1970 on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots at the Stonewall Inn.
     Supporters have flooded the site with flowers and balloons to remember victims in Orlando.

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