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All photos by author.

Millennials Share What Pride Means to Them at Iconic LGBTQ Landmarks

Aaron Barksdale

Aaron Barksdale

Young people tell their personal Pride stories in the city where the movement began.

All photos by author.

LGBTQIA2S is the full acronym for describing gender and sexual minorities, and yet it still doesn't feel completely accurate in describing people that fall outside of straight identities or hetero gender norms. The term queer, a slur reappropriated by the community, is often used as a catch-all for the various orientations and genders outside the binary cisgender and male-female attraction. The diversity of the community is as varied as the colors of the rainbow, which, along with the Babadook, has become the ubiquitous symbol of Pride.

VICE Impact spoke with nine people across the spectrum of queer identities and asked each of them what prides means to them at historic LGBTQ sites across New York City in honor of Pride month. Their stories emphasize that being queer isn't a monolithic identity, but an intertwined community of different experiences, challenges and reasons to be proud.

Reema, 26, Bisexual and partner Priya, 27, Queer

Photo taken at Housing Works. A non-profit with more than 25 years of history advocating for LGBTQ issues, particularly homelessness, HIV/AIDS and supporting asylum seekers.

Pride to me means that there is a world without judgment, where no one is uncomfortable, and where love and sex are not controlled components of society. It's a time to celebrate how far we've come, and for me, it's reassurance that I can still walk around hand in hand with my partner without worrying about being harassed. -Reema

To me, Pride is living my truth as a queer South Asian woman each and every day. It's about celebrating community and chosen family, in the light of marginalization and oppression. Pride means honoring the work of all the activists and pioneers who came before us, whose groundbreaking advocacy gives us the right to be out, march and marry. It means celebrating love in all its forms and using the privilege of being out to create visibility for those who remain in the shadows. -Priya.

Sebastiaan, 26, Gay

Photo taken at Pyramid Club. The venue originally opened in 1979 and throughout the '80s catered to the drag scene and gay celebrities such as RuPaul and Andy Warhol. After more than 30 years of operation, the club is still a hot spot for New York nightlife.

I am from the Netherlands, one of the most liberal countries on earth, but even there young LGBTQ people experience discrimination. My first Pride was a shock as so many people were not only accepting, but celebrated me being me. Seeing others involved in activism made me want to the join the movement for equality too. Standing side by side, united in our fight for equal rights is what pride means to me.

Maria, 27, Intersex and Lesbian

Photo taken at the Gay Liberation Monument. The four sculptures were installed in 1992 and face opposite the Stonewall Inn where the LGBTQ civil rights movement began.

Radical self-expression, love, community, validation and inclusion make Pride month great. I am so proud to be a part of the LGBTQI+ community and Pride month is a time for community views to be amplified so the world can see we exist. Pride is recognizing where we came from, the work we are doing and hoping that one day we will live in a world where differences are celebrated loudly all year long.

Kari Kerning, 30, Artist & Performer, Gay Drag Queen

Photo taken at the Stonewall Inn. Often cited as the spot where the LGBTQ rights movement kicked off, in 2016 the bar was designated as a national historic landmark. More than 50 years later it is both haven and turn-up spot for the LGBTQ community.

Pride is and has always been political. Whether it's marching with Act Up, dancing at a circuit party or just holding hands as we cross the street, anytime a queer person lives an out and honest life it's a political act. Almost 50 years after Stonewall and we still make a statement by simply living our lives.

Brandon, 26, Gay

Photo taken at Former Gay Activist Alliance Firehouse. The Gay Activist Alliance was a prominent advocacy group during the 70's and their base of operations was a firehouse in SoHo. The building's interior was destroyed by an arson fire in 1974 and has since become a retail store.

Pride is cementing yourself in your beliefs, even in the face of adversity. When you're proud, there's no room for fear.

Kelley, 30, Lesbian

Photo taken at the Lesbian Herstory Archives, an institution that has dedicated more than 40 years to preserving the academia, art and literature of gay women.

"For me, pride is about celebrating and feeling confident in my voice. In a field like comedy, which has not traditionally been the easiest for marginalized voices to break into, being a lesbian - being other - gives me the power to hold my own in spaces and situations often dominated by loud men. I love feeling like part of the legacy of queer women in comedy that Moms Mabley, Lily Tomlin, Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, and others have laid the foundation for. I love feeling connected to legends like that by this thing we all have in common!"

E. Oliver, 26, Queer and Non-binary Trans

Photo taken at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. Commonly known as "The Center ," this organization provides a safe space for all gender and sexual minorities.

Pride isn't just one month in a year, but the everyday act of harnessing the courage to unabashedly be yourself. It isn't just celebrating who we are today, but honoring the queer, trans and LGBTQ people of color before us who fought against oppression and erasure. Pride is being loud, being visible and actively resisting the gender binary and cishet-centrism that have tried to silence us.

Alexis, 25, Lesbian and Genderqueer

Photo taken at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. This cultural oasis has the honor of being the first art museum dedicated to showcasing the art of LGBTQ artists. The museum maintains a gag-worthy collection of 24,000 works, spanning different queer identities.

Pride to me means knowing that the most radical thing I can do every day is wake up, moisturize, kiss my girlfriend goodbye, go to work, advocate for diversity, and take up the most space I can. It means unapologetically being myself and paving the road for more representation in media and policy. Pride to me means decolonizing my body, loving myself, and being louder/greater than the system wants me to be.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.