Christopher Street Parade (1973)
Gay Pride parade, June 24,1973
Men pose at the Washington Square arch at the end of the day, following the 3rd Gay Pride Parade. The march ended at Washington Square where there was a program on a tall stage. The climax of the show was the appearance of Bette Midler, who had performed at the gay bath house on 1st Ave. before becoming famous. The gay community was feeling under siege at the time, and in a very moving performance Midler belted out an emotional version of her hit (You’ve Gotta Have) “Friends.”
Queens Liberation Front participated in many activities to advocate for the rights of LGBT people, particularly transvestites. The organization also participated in LGBT events such as the LGBT Pride March.:113 Members sometimes wore drag while lobbying New York state legislators.
The organization often collaborated with other local LGBT organizations, such as Gay Activists Alliance and Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.
In the early 1970s, the organizations successfully used litigation to overturn a New York City ordinance against cross-dressing.:87
In 1973, Queens Liberation Front agreed to a compromise amendment to New York City’s anti-discrimination ordinance that added sexual orientation to the ordinance, but clarified the ordinance did not cover cross-dressing. The organization’s director, Bebe Scarpie, met with the bill’s sponsor at City Hall and agreed to the compromise. The organization’s lawyer, Richard Levidow, believed the exclusionary clause violated the United States Constitution and was therefore unenforceable.
Lesbian Feminist Liberation opposed the performance by drag queens at the 1973 LGBT Pride March in New York City. As they passed out flyers, Sylvia Rivera, of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, took the microphone from emcee Vito Russo and spoke against the sentiment and spoke of the harassment and arrests of drag queens on the street, some of whom had been involved with the Stonewall riots. Lesbian Feminist Liberation’s Jean O’Leary then insisted on responding by denouncing drag as misogynist and criticizing the march for being too male-dominated. This prompted Queens Liberation Front’s Lee Brewster to denounce anti-transgender lesbian feminists. The increasingly angry crowd only calmed when Bette Midler, who heard on the radio in her Greenwich Village apartment, arrived, took the microphone, and began singing “Friends”. This was one of many events in early 1970s where lesbian and transgender activists clashed.