Pride in Pictures: The liberation of a ‘Gay In’ at a record-breaking kissing contest

Philip Raia and Judy Bowen, 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day
Philip Raia and Judy Bowen, 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day "Gay-In" kissing contest.Photo: By Fred Orlansky; Provided by Philip Raia

So we can celebrate virtually, LGBTQ Nation asked our readers to share a photo with us from the first time they went to Pride. Submissions poured in from around the world, spanning every year from 1970 to 2019.

We’ve selected 30 of our favorite photos and stories so we can celebrate with a Pride In Pictures special series and we’ll be sharing them with you every day this month.

Name: 

Philip Raia & Judy Bowen

Location:

Central Park, New York

Related: Drag queens held a “kiss-in” at a mall that booted a gay couple for smooching

What makes this photo special to you?

“This was taken during Christopher Street Liberation Day, the first LGBTQ Pride march in U.S. history, on  June 28, 1970. As the first march ended in Central Park on that afternoon, the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) had several events going on in the Sheep Meadow as part of a ‘Gay In.’

“There was a kissing contest going on – there were three couples that took part in the contest and if my memory serves me well, we arrived in the park at about 5 am. The existing world record for the longest continuous kiss was just under 8 hours, so we timed it so that we would break the record as the Marchers were entering/reaching the Park – and we did – but the Guinness Book of World Records refused to recognize it because it involved ‘same-sex’ couples kissing.

“We certainly have seen and lived through a lot. We were so young, and our dreams for a brighter tomorrow did come true for many of us, despite the oppression and hate from the New York City Police Department.

“We are still both politically active and remain great friends and allies after all these years; our relationship today is more like brother and sister than lovers.”

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