Along with rising temperatures and the start of summer Fridays, the Gay Pride March—or simply “Pride,” as it is commonly known—is one of the essential markers of summer in New York City. For one day every June, New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds flock to the streets to celebrate and show support for LGBTQ people. Since its beginning in 1970, on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, the parade has always been as much an advocacy event as a celebration of the city’s rich LGBTQ legacy.
Unsurprisingly, New York Pride is the subject of a book in The New Press’s new series documenting the LGBTQ experience around the world. The book, by New York City–based designer and photographer Jurek Wajdowicz, is titled Pride & Joy: Taking the Streets of New York City. “[The pride parade] is a joyous celebration, a visual feast,” Wajdowicz says, discussing the inspiration behind the book. “I wanted to convey the exuberance, the spontaneity, the creativity, the irreverence of the city that I love, and New York Pride is a concentration of that playful, sexy energy.”
In addition to being one of the photographers for the series, Wajdowicz is also its artistic director. The series as a whole is the brainchild of Wajdowicz and philanthropist Jon Stryker, the founder of Arcus Foundation, a leading global funder of organizations working to advance LGBTQ equality, and conservation of the world's great apes and their habitats. “Over the years, [Jon and I] had many conversations about the power of photography as a medium to transform people’s understanding of the world and their awareness of social-justice issues; the series grew out of those conversations,” Wajdowicz explains.
Pride & Joy includes more than 400 color photos from the New York City Pride parade, including the 2015 march, which took place days after the historic Supreme Court ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country. The photographs vividly capture the frenetic vitality of the parade—the rainbow flags draped across the buildings, the balloons and streamers trailing the floats, the Chihuahuas in capes and sequined head dresses. According to Wajdowicz, who came to New York from Poland in the 1970s, the challenge of photographing such an event is “finding those private moments, those moments of intimacy” that occur amid the commotion and excitement of the day.
To find those moments, Wajdowicz zoomed in on the individuals in the crowd. In one image, a police officer takes a selfie with a woman in a rainbow bow tie. Another shows a man in a wheelchair handing out water amid onlookers holding rainbow flags. In another, two friends wear rainbow yarmulkes. In yet another, a priest holds a rainbow sign.
The goal of The New Press’s series is to show the diversity of experience in LGBTQ communities around the world and depict the ways these communities are challenging traditional notions of family, gender, and relationships. Other titles in the series include Bordered Lives: Transgender Portraits from Mexico by Kike Arnal and Edges of the Rainbow: LGBTQ Japan by Michel Delsol and Haruku Shinozaki, as well as books that document subcultures in Australia, Russia, and India. There are currently six books available with additional volumes in the works. The photo collections invite readers into the lives of LGBTQ people while simultaneously providing the photos’ subjects an opportunity to express themselves with dignity and respect. According to Wajdowicz, the images are also meant as “a source of inspiration.”
Wajdowicz reflects on the 2015 parade and creating Pride & Joy with a sense of wistfulness but also determination: “With the political landscape as it is right now, I look at the images in the book and they give me hope.”