The streets of New York were awash with colour, energy and defiance, as the 49th annual Gay Pride Parade hit 5th Avenue in all its technicolour glory on 24 June 2018. Along with tens of thousands of rainbow flags and messages of love and support for the LGBTQ community, there was many-a-placard to be seen ridiculing and criticising President Donald Trump and his policies.

Sunday’s flamboyant celebration of the LGBTQ community is one-year shy of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which are said to have been the starting point of the modern day gay rights movement. The 2018 NYC Gay Pride Parade brought out between 1.5 to 2 million people to the streets of New York to show their support; one can only guess how many more supporters there will be next year for the big anniversary!

The rainbow flag has become a symbol of unity in support of gay rights all over the world. Here it is represented in human form.


Enthusiasm was seemingly boundless, as much from the walkers as from the watchers.


Many major make up brands were flamboyant in showing their support, like this party bus from Mac.


The overall message was simple: ‘Love is love’.


Let us all be free to love whoever we choose, regardless of gender, the marchers said.


People didn’t shy away from raising religious issues, often driving the point home with a dash of humour.


Many different nations were represented in this year’s parade, including this proud flag bearer from Jamaica.


The parade included many intricately choreographed routines, their colourful flags flying in formation, to the delight of the enthusiastic crowds


Many major international banks ‘came out’ in support of the LGBTQ community, including marchers from Deutsche Bank, and this float from Citibank.


The LGBTQ community was exuberant, confident and truly proud to make their stand, supported by over a million onlookers. There was a clearly defiant undertone to many of the messages being carried alongside the myriad fluttering rainbow flags, expressing decidedly anti-Trump sentiments.


No matter what age, shape, colour or gender, the marchers, and the supporters lining the streets, came from all walks of life to proclaim the universal message of love.


Be it flags, clothing, or hair — the symbolic rainbow reigned supreme in the hearts and minds of all the attendees that day.


Polina Schapova is a Delhi-based Russian-British photographer. Follow her work on Instagram or on her website.