For many New Yorkers, June — Pride Month and home to Juneteenth — can be a time for reflection and reconnection. The month is a time to both celebrate and meditate on queer and Black culture through a variety of events.
Juneteenth, observed on June 19, marks the day in 1865 when news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas — nearly two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery.
In 2020, as protests swept the nation after the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, Juneteenth became a holiday in New York State; it became a federal holiday last June. But for years, people have been finding ways to commemorate and honor the importance of the day.
“It’s more than celebrating the holiday,” the author, chef and artist Lazarus Lynch told Gina Cherelus, a Styles reporter for The Times, in 2020. “It’s celebrating life and the existence of life.”
June is also Pride Month, commemorating the Stonewall uprising, which began around 1 a.m. on June 28, 1969, and continued for six days. It has a special resonance in New York, where it all started. “All the Prides we have in the world, it started here,” Frits Huffnagel, the chairman of Amsterdam Pride, told Michael Gold, a Times reporter, in 2019. “We are all standing on the shoulders of the people that were here.” Both holidays can be fraught for those who lament their commodification. For others, they are a time to honor achievements and publicly come together in ways that would have been unthinkable during eras past.
For those who like to dance, Bubble_T, the queer Asian dance party, is hosting a fifth anniversary celebration at the music venue and arts space Elsewhere on June 10; Hot Rabbit, a group that organizes L.G.B.T.Q. events, is taking over Lot 45 with Dave’s Lesbian Bar on June 11; and Papi Juice, the art collective for queer and trans people of color, is throwing a celebration at the Brooklyn Museum on June 11.
Lincoln Center has an assortment of Pride events planned as part of its Summer for the City series, including a tribute to Paradise Garage on June 22 and a ball on June 24. On June 23, Elsewhere is hosting the queer hyperpop party SKSKSKS, and throughout the weekend of June 26, Hot Rabbit is throwing events around the city. Pride Island, which is bringing Lil’ Kim, Kim Petras and other musicians out to Governors Island, is on June 25 and 26.
Honoring by Going Out to Eat
Celebrating both Juneteenth and Pride Month can come in many forms — including visiting Black- and/or queer-owned restaurants and bars. Here are a few to consider for your next meal or drink.
A great place to celebrate Juneteenth is Charles Country Pan Fry Chicken, the longtime soul food restaurant run by its chef and owner, Charles Gabriel. It has recently reopened on the Upper West Side and is still serving some of the city’s best fried chicken.
At Cheryl’s Global Soul, a longstanding soul food restaurant in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, the chef Cheryl Smith showcases the ways soul food can evolve and mesh with flavors from communities in proximity to it. Don’t miss the tamarind or jerk wings.
Although not Black-owned, Cadence is serving some of the city’s best vegan soul food from the chef Shenarri Freeman, a Virginia native and vegan. (Think collard green wraps with succotash, chickpea miso broth and amaranth.)
And don’t limit yourself to restaurants: A visit the Museum of Food and Drink to see its latest exhibit, “African/American: Making the Nation’s Table,” on view until June 19, would also be a great way to celebrate — and to understand Black contributions to America’s food culture.
For Pride Month, consider queer-owned restaurants like Superfine in Dumbo, Brooklyn, an art gallery, music venue and restaurant that supports L.G.B.T.Q. causes in a casual atmosphere. It’s a perfect spot for brunch, followed by a walk to the East River to see the Manhattan skyline.
Technically a coffee shop, Kopitiam on the Lower East Side is also a casual Malaysian cafe with a menu of small plates and entrees meant for sharing. Perpetually busy and beloved, it’s a perfect place to spend an afternoon or have a late lunch.
Van Da, owned by the chef Yen Ngo, is a modern Vietnamese restaurant highlighting regional Vietnamese cooking. Don’t miss the savory and pleasantly sticky pork and shrimp tapioca dumplings.
Korsha Wilson and Patrick Hays contributed reporting.