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June 17, 2024 14 mins
For over 50 years, the legendary NYC Pride March has been a symbol of the LGBTQIA+ presence in our community. Heritage of Pride is the non profit organization that plans and produces New York City's official Pride events each year. For a backstage pass to this year's events, we're joined by Samantha Johnson, Associate Director of Entertainment and Events for Heritage of Pride. For more, visit
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Welcome to get connected with Nina delRio, a weekly conversation about fitness,
health and happenings in our community onone oh six point seven Light FM.
Good morning, and thanks for listeningto get connected during Pride Month, I'm
sure you've noticed the flags everywhere allkinds of parties and celebrations. For over
fifty years, the legendary NYC PrideMarch has been a symbol of the LGBTQIA

plus presence in our community. Heritageof Pride is the nonprofit that plans and
produces New York City's official Pride eventseach year, and our guest is Samantha
Johnson, Associate director of Entertainment andEvents for Heritage of Pride. Samantha,
thank you for being on the show. Good to chat with you as well.
Happy Pride. You can find outmore about everything at Nycpride dot org.

And actually I thought we'd start offwith you, Samantha. Could you
tell us what are your most vividmemories of Pride? Growing up Pride related
events? What did those events meanto you? Yeah? Of course,
so I myself, I'm originally fromWashington, d C. So I grew
up with Capital Pride as my mainPride organization, so you know, having

that in the city the many ofyou know, street festivals, parties,
et cetera. But also the marchis the most you know, well known
event in a lot of our Pridespaces. And I also had the opportunity
to attend NYC Pride even before Istarted working with the organization because my family
is from New York, so Igot a little bit of the culture that

New York and DC folk bring tothe LGBT spaces. But Pride has always
been a symbol of acceptance and opennessand community for me. And now that
your career is designing experiences, andI looked at your bio, you designed
very big experiences. How long doesit take to put an event like this?
All these events together? For usat NYC Pride, once we wrap

up in June, we are lookingforward to the next year. It takes
a lot of planning around safety,security, locking down venues, making sure
that we have the appropriate number ofvolunteers. There's just a lot of work
that goes into producing community events ingeneral. A lot of other nonprofits,

a lot of other community organizers candefinitely relate to some of the planning and
difficulty of planning in New York Cityin itself. We will talk more about
volunteering in a bit. These eventsrely so much on volunteers, and again
there are giant parties attached to allof this, but Heritage of Pride has
an overriding purpose beyond the parties.Yeah, Heritage of Pride In NYC Pride,

we always say that Pride is aparty and a protest in itself.
So that gives folks the ability tocelebrate Pride or voice their opinion during Pride
as they would like too. Sothat's via marching, that's via safe spaces
that some of our parties sort ofencompassed, and just making sure that you

are doing whatever your personal pride lookslike and it's sath for you and everybody
around you. So Pride March thisyear officially starts eleven am on June thirtieth.
Can you tell us about it?Who are the Grand Marshals? What
is new this year? Yeah,for sure, we are excited about our
long list of Grand Marshals for thisseason. We have Deshaun Usher, Raquel

Willis Ms Major, who is astaple in our community and has done some
amazing work throughout the years. Ourcelebrity Grand Marshal this year is Michelle Visage,
who is one of the judges fromBrupaul's Drag Race. And then we
actually are dedicating our Youth Grand Marshallcategory for all queer youth all of the

world. So with that, wehave three different representatives that will be coming
in and representing that Youth Brand Marshallcategory. But also our NYC Pride Hop
float will be full of youth inthe community that are related to some of
the work that they're doing in theNew York City area. So we're really
really excited for our Grand Marshal slats, but we're super excited to have that

Youth Brand Marshall category dedicated to allLGBTQI plus youth. I want to return
to that in just a moment,but for listeners who just jumped in,
you're listening to get connected on oneoh six point seven Light FM. I
Mina del Rio and our guest isSamantha Johnson of Heritage of Pride, the
nonprofit that plans and produces New YorkCity's official LGBTQIA plus Pride events each year.

This year's Pride March is June thirtieth. For the full schedule of events,
visit Nycpride dot org and Samantha,like all other kids, LGBTQ kids
have a lot on their plate,and I think you would agree that.
Of course, the reality is thattheir lives are just going to be more
political because they happen to be aminority. But to some degree, younger

people I think seem particularly motivated rightnow and particularly powerful. Yeah. I
mean, if you take a lookat what's happening in terms of legislation,
there's a lot of legislation that istargeting LGBTQI plus youth. But when you
look at those crowds, when youlook at the protests, when you would

look at the marches, those arethe individuals that are activated and energizing the
movement, which is to me justvery happy and very proud of what youth
are doing and standing their ground andjust making sure that their voice is heard
throughout this whole process. It's kindof ability of saying, this is what
we want for us, and youcannot determine that. So the final week

of the year, not only isthere the Giant Pride March, the week
is packed with a ton of events, including Youth Pride on June twenty ninth
at South Street Seaport. It isa free event with music and dance and
food. What's the atmosphere. Absolutely, we are super super excited to continue
to host Youth Pride. We startedYouth Pride back in twenty seventeen when we

wanted to really make sure that wehad a space for thirteen to twenty four
year olds to gather during Pride withoutthe drinking element, without the adults in
the area. It's very safe foryouth and the community. So this year
in particular, we are partnering withSouth Street Seaport Museum in peer sixteen and

seventeen to host this event. Isgoing to be a combination of music,
dancers, Amplify it sound. Wehave two amazing hosts for the event,
fully activated stage, multiple community partners, sponsors on site. And the best
thing about this is that it's completelyfree. Any giveaway that you have in

the space, entry, etc.Is completely free to youth in the community.
And what age range is this designedfor. I'm wondering because if you're
coming alone, or if you're shy, or if you're not the kind of
person who can usually work a room. What is the room like? So
we really dedicate this event to thethirteen to twenty four year old age range.

If you really think about it,that is the age where a lot
of LGBT homelessness happens within the youthcommunity. So we definitely want to create
a space for them to gather.We have a number of volunteers from all
walks of life that are coming intothe space and that are able to help
you navigate the space. There's goingto be a lot going on that day.

Like I said, we are inpartnership with South Streets Seaport Museum,
so they'll be able to go ontothe boats. You'll be able to listen
to great music, but you'll alsobe able to come and meet new friends.
You'll be able to tap into servicesfrom community partners. But we really
have an energized staff and volunteer basethat's really able to help you navigate.

So turning to another topic, Samantha, I've also had several conversations on this
show in the past with trans adultswho feel like there's not always room for
them in the LGBTQ plus community.They feel kind of like their issues are
treated as other. How does heritageof Pride show support. Yeah, I
think in a lot of different ways, the reflection of trans individuals shows up

in our representatives that are Grand Marshals. For one, the march is definitely
open to all. We also haveProdcasts taking place on Saturday, June thirtieth,
where we have a lot of representationof the trans community on not only
on the stages, but within thoseactivating spaces and those booths. I definitely
want to really encourage everyone to getout into the street and just really explore

what's available to them and what theylike. We also have an amazing event
called Bliss Days that's going to takeplace on Saturday, June thirtieth. This
is really an event that's dedicated toqueer women within the community, inclusive of
non binary and trans folks. Soagain, take a look at our lineup
of events on NYC Pride dit organd just really immerse yourself in what's going

on this season. In particular,we also have a number of community partners
that are hosting events throughout the city. There's going to be a lot going
on, So I would definitely sayhave folks prepare for coming to Pride and
making sure that your plans are setprior to, you know, those days
of Pride. All these events surroundingPride also bring in all kinds of tourists

and tourist dollars. New York Cityis often named, as you know,
is one of the top travel destinationsfor LGBTQ plus travelers. Assuming you agree,
what does New York City do bestfor residents and visitors of the community.
I think just New York City USin itself. We provide so many
options. You're not stuck with doingone thing or being in one area.

We have events in Brooklyn, haveevents in Manhattan. I know that there
are a couple of Pride organizations thatare hosting that same weekend. There's some
things going on in Harlem, Queens, etc. So you really have the
ability to navigate the city and dothese different types of things during Pride,
whereas if you're going to maybe anotherstate or a city, it's concentrated in

one place. Like you can seethe Pride throughout all five boroughs, which
I always say, and that's justa beautiful thing to kind of be a
part of. You have a fullschedule of events again, Nycpride dot org
for more any others you'd like tohighlight. Yeah, I definitely just want
to say again, check out ourcalendar on Nycpride dot org. We have

teas that's taking place on Saturday,June twenty second. This is going to
be our kickoff event at Club Lambdaand Brooklyn, and then we have Youth
Pride taking place on Saturday June twentyninth, South Street, Seaport, and
then the Big Sunday. There's alot going on on. We have the
March, we have Pride fests,and then we have b list days to
kind of end our night. ButI know that there are a number of

other events that are happening, sodefinitely stay safe. We have a set
of you know, just tips andtricks to navigate NYC Pride in general on
our website and our social so tryto read some of those things prior to
actually, you know, getting onthe street volunteering. These events would not
be possible without volunteers. What wouldvolunteers be doing? Can you talk about

that work? NYC Pride is avolunteer run organization, which a lot of
people don't know that. A lotof are staffing, a lot of the
folks that are planning currently right nowthat are driving our trucks, that are
picking up items, that are droppingoff things that are on site, you
know, helping with directional information.These are all hundreds and hundreds of volunteers

that not only come from the NewYork City area, but we have folks
buying in from different places, drivingin from surrounding areas. So just the
appreciation around volunteers is something that ourboard and staff definitely want people to know
about. But we are always lookingfor volunteers. If you go to Nycpride
dot org, there is a volunteersign up sheet that we have where you're

able to kind of pick which eventyou're interested in, and then we'll reach
out to you and just continue theconversation. But it's a great space to
meet other people that are like inthe city. If you're just coming into
the city for that weekend, it'sa great space to meet new people.
But also it's kind of your roadwayinto becoming a member of NYC Pride.

A lot of people don't really recognizethat you have the opportunity to become a
member of the organization, and ourmembers are the folks that are really a
part of community that we're listening toin terms of producing events. What events
are we're producing? How can wedo things better? So I definitely say
engage with us as much as possible, because these events will not be possible
without community and volunteers. So thePride March steps off eleven am Sunday,

June thirtieth, Fifth Avenue and twentyfifth Street heads downtown as always, towards
the National Stonewall Monument on Christopher Streetand from there then goes back uptown to
the New York City Aids Memorial.Anything you'd like to add, Samantha,
just very appreciative of community. Weknow how important this year is for our
community. It's a voting year,so a lot of our plans are centered

around giving our platform to community folksto have their voices heard within the space.
Our theme for this year is Empower, Reflect, Empower, Unite,
So it's really taking a look backat some of the work that we've done.
It's our fortieth anniversary Heritage or Pride, so we're really honored to be

in this space this year. Butdefinitely stay safe, make sure that you're
planning prior to getting out in thestreet, and just visit our website for
more information. And stay tuned onour social media as well. Our guest
has been Samantha Johnson, Associate directorof Entertainment and Events for Heritage of Pride.
You can find out more at Nycpridedot org. Samantha, thank you

for being on the show and HappyPride. Thank you, Happy Pride.
Everybody this has been get connected withNina del Rio on one oh six point
seven light Fm. The views andopinions of our guests do not necessarily reflect
the views of the station. Ifyou missed any part of our show or
want to share it, visit ourwebsite for downloads and podcasts at one O

six to seven lightfm dot com.Thanks for listening.
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