Abortion Ruling Casts Shadow on Pride Festivities
Good morning. It’s Monday. We’ll look at the sense of urgency that the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling added to the annual gay pride parade. We’ll also get a look at a sculpture by Jean Dubuffet that was all but forgotten for decades.
The Supreme Court’s abortion ruling and the threat to same-sex consensual relations and same-sex marriage that Justice Clarence Thomas raised in his concurring opinion cast a shadow over the New York City Pride March on Sunday.
The annual event is usually an unabashed celebration. This time, Planned Parenthood led the parade at the invitation of Heritage of Pride, the group that organizes the march along Fifth Avenue. Heritage of Pride said the court decision set “a disturbing precedent that put many other constitutional rights and freedoms in jeopardy.”
So while there were the usual rainbow balloons floating in the early-summer breeze and the usual revelers tossing confetti, there was also a newfound urgency amid chants of “rise up for abortion rights.” Marchers and people on the sidelines said the times called for activism to maintain and expand civil rights for women as well as for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
Cynthia Nixon, the actress and former candidate for governor, marched behind the Planned Parenthood group, saying the parade had been a celebration in recent years. But this time, she said, “it’s a protest.”
That idea was echoed by many along the parade route, including Rick Landman, who said he had walked in the first Pride march in 1970. “To me, this is a continuation of the civil rights struggle,” he said, over chants of “my body, my choice” from women marching on behalf of the New York City Department of Education. “I fought for women’s rights. The next generation has to fight in order to keep them.”
The parade was the first in-person Pride march since 2019 because of the pandemic. It was the largest of its kind over the weekend in Manhattan, but revelers celebrated the end of Pride Month at other events across the city, including the Queer Liberation March, which kicked off in Foley Square downtown. There, too, people voiced concern about the implications of the decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
“What will be next? Gay marriage? Trans rights?” asked Charlotte Dragga, a trans woman from Durham, N.C. “It’s just going to get worse. It’s going to have impacts beyond just abortion.”
Kymme Napoli of Park Slope, Brooklyn, a hospital counselor who often helps people struggling to decide whether to get an abortion, said the court’s decision “made people want to come out more, to show more support for each other.”
Crying as she spoke, she said, “I fear for people who aren’t in states like New York.” Last week Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who is the first female governor of New York, announced an advertising campaign to tell women around the country that abortions remained available in New York, which legalized abortion in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade was decided. Separately, the State Legislature also passed bills meant to protect medical providers from facing charges in other states for providing abortions.
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In effect until July 4 (Independence Day).
Former Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and his brothers amassed so much sculpture — they were the Rockefellers, after all — that their staff could send one statue off to storage and all but forget about it.
Even one that is 11 feet tall, weighs seven and a half tons and has the unmistakable impudence of the French artist Jean Dubuffet, who created it in the 1960s and sold it to Rockefeller in the 1970s.
It languished, stowed in a building with a dirt floor on the Rockefellers’ estate in Tarrytown, N.Y., through the 1980s, the 1990s, the 2000s and the 2010s.
That building, which originally served as the cold-weather storehouse for orange trees on the estate, had to be cleared out to be remodeled as the David Rockefeller Arts Center (which is scheduled to open in October).
Sitting in a corner, shrouded by a cover, was the Dubuffet.
The curators were not sure what they would think when the cover came off. That was generational: All the curators now on the staff were hired after Nelson Rockefeller died in 1978 and the sculpture went into hiding. “We knew it was there,” said Katrina London, the manager of collections and curatorial projects at the former estate, now known as the Pocantico Center, “but I didn’t know how impressive and exciting a piece it was.”
Dubuffet did not intend it to end up on the Rockefellers’ estate. He made it as an “experimental creation,” said Judy Clark, the executive director of the Pocantico Center, and installed it in his garden in France. Nelson Rockefeller saw a photograph of it a few years later and arranged to buy it, London said.
After a few years on the estate, she said, the Dubuffet needed some touching up and was moved into the Orangerie. “They were going to put it there and decide what to do with it,” she said. But with Rockefeller’s death, “It just stayed there.”
Tests in 2019 showed that it was structurally sound, which meant it could be moved, and it was — to a shed, so that the Orangerie renovations could begin.
Soon the curators were scouting possible locations on the grounds. They printed a full-size image of the sculpture on vinyl that they carried from place to place.
They decided on a hill near the main gate where, for now, it is under a scaffold and conservators are checking it over. “We liked that place because it was elevated enough that you could see it from several different directions,” London said. “It seemed appropriate as a welcoming beacon, almost, and to signify that there is an outdoor sculpture collection beyond — a very large one. Ninety-four outdoor sculptures.”
I was on the subway on a service-change, midsummer Saturday. An ad hoc committee had formed in the car I was on. We were debating where the woman sitting next to me should transfer to get to the Brooklyn Museum.
After deciding which stop made the most sense, she and I talked about our lives as we made our way there. She had lived in New York for over 50 years. I had just moved back after a year away. She had done IT work for a firm based in Germany, and I worked in technology, too.
When we got to where she would transfer, I got off with her and we waited for the next train together. I wondered whether anyone thought we were grandmother and grandson, rather than strangers who had met just 20 minutes before on a rerouted D.
When I mentioned that I had just gone through a breakup, she told me that in bad moments I needed to tell myself three things: “I love you. I’ll take care of you. I’ll never leave you.”
She insisted I memorize the phrases, and I mumbled them over and over in the sticky subway car.
When we got off the train, I started to ask her name. Rather than telling me, she made me repeat what she had taught me.
“I love you,” I said. “I’ll take care of you. I’ll never leave you.”
She shuffled off toward the museum, and I turned back down Eastern Parkway toward home. I said the words once more, this time just to myself. They were barely audible against the noise of traffic.
— Ethan Peterson-New