Millions of people took part in day-long pride parades, marches and festivities in major cities across the country just two days after the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is a right nationwide.
The Pride March in New York City has been going on for 45 years to commemorate the Stonewall Inn riots that took place in 1969, but this year’s parade is especially historic following the landmark ruling.
Related: Live from NYC’s Pride March
The march, which kicked off at noon, is expected to draw record crowds during its two-mile route down Fifth Avenue, with 22,000 marchers, 344 groups and over two million spectators. Around 300 floats will be featured, which will be judged in various categories, including best dressed, most original, best use of rainbow colors and best representation of the LGBT community.
Before the start of the march, Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed supporters in front of The Stonewall Inn, where over three decades ago, gay community members fought back after police raids, igniting the tumultuous fight for LGBT rights that continues today. He declared a “proud day for America.”
“Equality is not a choice. Equality is a promise,” Cuomo said, adding “My friends, today is a good day. Because at the end of the day, love wins today. And any day that love wins, is a good day.”
Cuomo’s comments came just before he officiated a same-sex marriage between New York residents David Contreras Turley and Peter Thiede. “By the power recently vested in me by the state of New York,” Cuomo announced, “I now pronounce you married.” Onlookers cheered and David and Peter shared their first embrace as a married couple.
In New York City’s flatiron district, 10 blocks south of the parade’s start, revelers danced down Fifth Avenue to the sounds of Bruno Mars and Madonna, waving rainbow flags and chanting, “All 50 states.” Sir Ian Mckellen served as one of this year’s grand marshals, and refused to let a little rain dampen the mood.
“It’s a lovely day,” the British actor, dressed all in white (save for his rainbow sash,) yelled to the cheering crowd.
Veteran marchers said this year’s parade felt more powerful than any other pride parade in history.
“This may be the greatest day for a parade in New York City ever,” New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer told msnbc. “My two little boys are never going to have to worry about who they love, what they love, what they believe in. We have changed things not just for our generation, but for the children who come after us. It’s an amazing day for this country.”
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer echoed the sentiment. “I marched in this parade 10 years ago,” he told msnbc while gesticulating with a rainbow flag. “It feels a lot different now.”
Some parade goers had been there for hours, hoping to get a good spot for the day’s events.
“I feel great to be here,” 18-year-old Brandon Myricks, who took a 7:50 a.m. train from New Jersey, told msnbc. “I’m most looking forward to seeing all the floats and all the happy people watching the parade. And I can’t wait to go to the street fair, hang out with all of my friends. It’s going to be fun.”
Others traveled from even further away to celebrate all weekend long.
“We love Provincetown [Massachusetts] but we wanted to be back in our native New York to celebrate. We had to come back just for this,” Alicia Mickenberg told msnbc. Her wife of 10 years, Kathleen Fitzgerald, said she could never have imagined celebrating nationwide marriage equality when the two tied the knot back in 2005.
“I didn’t know how long it was going to take, but I think we’re all standing a little bit taller,” Fitzgerald said. “The arc of justice is bending toward freedom for more people in America. I couldn’t be prouder today.”
Chicago’s 46th annual Pride Parade also kicked off this afternoon to mark the end of June Pride Month. San Francisco, Seattle, the Twin Cities, St. Petersburg, and St. Louis will also hold day-long Pride festivities today complete with colorful floats, music, contests and celebrity appearances—all in the name of LGBT power.