Celebrating Pride 2023 with LGBTQ+ Luminaries at the SNMVC

Activist, writer, and professor Dr. Kevin Nadal, design publicist and floral artist David Braha, and former journalist and Senior Director of Communications at GLAAD Tony Morrison joined us at the site of the future Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center to chat about the meaning of Pride, and what the Visitor Center might mean for future generations of LGTBQ+ people.


In the midst of coordinating a massive weekend concert for Stonewall Day starring Christina Aguilera, Pride Live also took another big step in activating the forthcoming Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center in the form of a vibrant window showcase sporting a pledge to support today’s LGTBQ+ community and generations to come.

We invited a few friends from NYC’s LGBTQ+ community to join us and share their thoughts on what Pride means to them, why the Stonewall National Monument and the Visitor Center matter, and their hopes for future generations of LGBTQ+ youth, including:

Dr. Kevin Nadal, an activist, writer, public speaker, tenured Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the City University of New York and one of the leading researchers in understandingthe impacts of microaggressions, or subtle forms of discrimination, on the mental and physical health of people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, and other marginalized groups. 

Tony Morrison, who spent over a decade as a journalist and producer for top network talent and news programs at CNN and ABC News, and most recently as Senior Digital Producer at Good Morning America. In his new role as Senior Director of Communications, Morrison leads GLAAD’s key initiatives, including Spirit Day, Pride month and GLAAD’s 20 Under 20 List. 

David Braha, a design publicist, floral artist, and the founder of Tours By David, which offers one of the most highly-rated architectural walking tours of NYC that include the Stonewall Inn and historic surroundings.

Read on for those interviews, and stay tuned for news around the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center, coming in 2024!


Dr. Kevin Nadal

How does it feel to be at the Stonewall National Monument today?  

Being here at Stonewall during Pride is always a very special, liberating, also very emotional kind of moment. I make sure to come here every single year sometime during the Pride season, just because it brings you back to where it all started. It makes you feel the vibes of why Pride originally started: as a riot, as an uprising, as an opportunity for people to come together and stand up for our rights. 

With all the different directions that Pride has gone over the past several decades, it’s important to remember the origins—the young people, the street homeless folks, the trans women of color, and the disruptors that started this movement. We have to honor those stories and always remember the true meaning of Pride… to really honor those foremothers, -fathers, -parents who paved the way so that we can have all the things that we have today.

What does Pride mean to you in 2023?

Every year Pride is different. Pride ‘23 is a moment in time in which we’re in crisis—where trans and queer people, but especially trans youth across the country are being targeted and stripped away of their basic rights and even just their human dignity. While it might not be something that we may feel every day in a place like New York City, it still is something that people across the country and across the world feel regularly. 

I want to honor that Pride does relate back to its origin stories—that it still should and always will be part of resistance and struggle and part of the revolution. We have to fight against the oppressors: those that try to dehumanize us, those who try to make us feel less than, those who are violently targeting us. I hope that queer and trans people never become complacent and that it is never lost on them that Pride was a riot, an uprising led by our most marginalized, and that we continue to celebrate that true meaning of Pride.

How do you feel connected to and galvanized by the events at Stonewall?

Pride was based on people who were fighting for the right to exist. Even if we come to a place where queer and trans people are accepted—whatever that means—it’s so important to always remember those origins. 

This is why it’s so important to have queer studies integrated into the classroom. This is why it’s so important for queer trans books to be taught at all levels, at age-appropriate levels. We don’t want people to forget. We don’t want people to become complacent. We want people to always feel accepted and celebrated—but to understand that there were generations of people who fought for us to have those opportunities.

How do you see the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center as playing a role in the effort to educate and celebrate?

The Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center is so important because it’ll be the opportunity for people to come to the groundbreaking site—the trailblazing site; the site of riot, of revolution, of uprising—and to understand those stories. 

We’ll have the opportunity to hear from the Stonewall fighters and revolutionaries, of all aspects, of all perspectives: the homeless kids on the street who were kicked out of their homes, who ran away because my they weren’t able to be themselves; the trans woman of color who battled transphobia and racism, not just in general society, but within the gay community at the time; the heroes and she-roes and they-roes who stood up at a time when it wasn’t guaranteed that they would survive. 

Having a place that preserves and promotes history, that can be a resource for queer and trans people but also for hetero, cis people to learn that history… It becomes a way for us to ensure that history is never forgotten; history is never revised; history is never sugar-coated. Having that place, especially as a national monument, becomes that place where people can always go to, where it’s not going away. It is recognition that the history will always be told, and people’s stories will always be heard.

What kind of storytelling would you be most interested to encounter at the Visitor Center?

The section that I would put in a center like this would be the untold stories. Queer history is very hard to document. So many people spent their entire lives ensuring that there were no traces of them being queer or trans—not because they were necessarily embarrassed or they didn’t live their lives in that way, but because they knew the violent repercussions. While any queer or trans museum may have some artifacts and photos and oral histories of queer and trans people, they will also be missing a lot of stories. 

Lately, I’ve been talking about this idea of queer imaginations: this notion that we have to imagine some of our histories. We have to imagine who some of these street kids were that never got interviewed but were documented as being there. 


We have to imagine some of these trans and genderqueer and non-binary folks who were alive in the 1960s, living their best lives, and weren’t accepted in both general society and within the general “gay community.” That’s the section that I would like to see: our imaginations of what we don’t have documented—and to validate and celebrate those stories, as well.

Is there someone in particular who has inspired your life’s work, whose torch do you seek to carry?

The two people that usually come to mind whenever I think about my own work—especially my work in relation to queer studies, queer theory, queer psychology—are Audre Lorde and James Baldwin. They represented this notion that you could be an academic, you could be a scholar, in nontraditional ways. You could also be somebody with a perspective, a point of view—with something you want to share with the world—and find a way to make sure that people hear it. What’s so compelling about their individual stories is that they weren’t in traditional academia, yet their work was published, available, and accessible—not just for some people of that generation, but for generations to come. 

When I started doing my own work, in academia and writing in general, it was so important for me to make sure that my work was accessible—to make sure that I said everything that I wanted to say, to be unapologetic in sharing those perspectives. Especially when I talk about trans and queer People of Color issues, sometimes it just feels like I have to tell the stories of people that have been erased. Audre Lorde and James Baldwin were the first writers to make sure that our stories weren’t erased. It just becomes something that I have to continue to do as I continue navigating this world.

What message would you like to send to future generations? 

I think about the trans and queer kids who are still unable to live in their truest and most authentic ways because society still tells them that they are unworthy, they’re unlovable, they’re evil, they’re psychotic…any of these number of horrific messages that kids today still hear. To them, I say: You’re not alone; you’re one of billions—of this generation and the previous generation. You are someone who was blessed with a special gift of being trans or queer. I hope you realize that. Trans and queer people, we’re unicorns; we’re something special.

Second, I think about my three children. I hope that they can live in a world where they can be whoever they want to be—that they feel free, liberated, accepted, validated, celebrated—and that they never doubt their existence. We know there are people that will still tell them that being trans or queer is bad, and that being Black or brown is bad. I just hope that they can live in a world where that’s as minimal as possible and that they continue to fight to make sure their kids’ generation will have it even easier.


Tony Morrison

How does Pride 2023 feel to you? 

Pride, for me, gets bigger and better and more authentic every single year. Pride weekend in New York is absolutely electric. To see everyone who thinks, laughs, loves, and lives most similarly to [the way] I do, to see that around in real life, especially as an adult, is really an inspiring thing—to look back into my life where I didn’t have [that] level of authenticity.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I came out very late in life. Really, that was a huge result of not having any possible models for me in life as a young person. That’s not to say my parents didn’t love or accept me. I grew up in a very loving home, but the language didn’t exist for LGBTQ+ people or their identity. I think that’s what we owe young people today: to be able to grant them that wisdom and joy and language. 


What we’re finding today is rooted in stigma and shame and fear of truth and authenticity because it breaks the norms. Queer existence itself is a protest, because it defies any norm—gender norms, societal norms—and there’s just a refusal to live inside a box that was pre-designed for you. That’s part of the queer existence: being able to define yourself and having the freedom and liberation to do that—but, also, to paint your own colors and create your own box.

What would you identify as a central theme of Pride in 2023?

It’s really important to stick to the core of what Pride is and how we got here. Really, Pride is about queer existence, queer experiences, and being able to learn from one another. Despite so many—an infinite amount of—experiences, the one thing that is the same is joy. Joy is the central theme, I think, for Pride. For us, sticking to joy in our own experiences is what will move things forward—because joy is the ultimate common denominator.

What is your message to future generations?

My advice to future generations and to future activists, specifically, is the same message that we have always communicated to each other: You are not alone. You’re not alone in this fight; you’re not alone in this experience; you’re not alone in this community. The second you live and fight truthfully and authentically, this community is one that finds you. You don’t have to work so hard to find this community; it’s a family that finds you. Know that. Know that you’re not alone. 


How do you think about the importance of the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center and the elevation of LGBTQ+ history?

Having a place to go is something that the queer community has always kind of gravitated to. The queer bar is not just a bar; it’s a meeting ground. It’s community. It’s home for people. So, having a physical place dedicated to history and learning and teaching others what our history is and has been is crucial to future generations. 


When you think about finding your identity, were there particular people—then and now—whom you looked up to?

As someone who’s openly and publicly living with HIV, I really give a lot of thought to the people who didn’t get to live because of the HIV epidemic in the 80s. I’m one of the lucky ones, born in this generation, [when] I have access to care. I owe a lot to them, and I try to live life in a way that they didn’t get to. Why should I live in shame and doubt? That allows me to live a life authentically and joyously, because there’s so many who didn’t get to. I feel like it’s on me to help others find that joy also.


David Braha

What does this site mean to you?

Stonewall and greater Christopher Street’s meaning have evolved over the years from when I was first coming out as a teenager; it was and always will be a hub for me to feel safe. Whether I’m feeling down, or in a really good mood, I know I can hop on over knowing there are options to explore parts of myself that I didn’t know existed.

How do you define Pride? 

It’s going to sound cliché, but it’s really all about building yourself a support system and community. Knowing that, even though we’ve come so far in larger cities like New York, we tend to sometimes forget that we’re in a bubble and have so far to go. Pride was a riot, and some people tend to forget that.

For me, Pride is giving back to the younger generation—whether that means having them crash on the couch for a night or introducing them to other people. There’s the famous quote: “If not now, when? If not me, then who?” You really do feel this responsibility to carry the torch, because no one else is going to do it if you just stand there idly and wait for something to happen. I cherish having that support system there when I need it most, so it’s really just all about passing it on.

Who has influenced and inspired your community-building?

What comes to mind are all the DJs in the city that work really hard and help to give a soundtrack to our lives. They are really the ones who help create community when it comes to bars and clubs not only having a revival in New York, but also really establishing a presence—and what it means to be free and just let your freak flag fly. Sometimes they might go unnoticed, but they have a really special place in my heart.


Why does the creation of the Visitor Center at Stonewall feel important to you?

As someone in the architecture field, Stonewall is not just about a building; it’s really about a spirit, memory, and community. Having a physical space to gather… It’s not just the physical place, but a memorial in our minds and in our hearts. The rebellion started with throwing a brick; so when we see the bricks of Stonewall… It’s really such a no-brainer to have this space in the future, with the city as it is—ever-evolving—to really keep this memory alive.

What message would you like to send to future generations of LGBTQ+ youth?

Make sure you have a tight support system and chosen family around you—somebody you can lean on. In New York, there’s an endless array of options for a community that fits your needs. 

No matter what, there’s always going to be a way that you can connect to one of them. And if it doesn’t fit, you’re able to hop, skip, and jump to something else that fits your needs. Creating that support system is crucial to the continuity of learning from the past. Eventually, before you know it, you’ll be that person to pass it on to someone else.