Samantha Marie Johnson
The Experiential Advocate for the Queer Black Community
Samantha Marie Johnson’s identity and values as a queer Black woman are central to her work — as a co-founder of a tequila brand born of the racial turmoil of 2020 and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement; as an organizer of inclusive culture crawls in cities across the country; and in her role as Associate Director of Events & Entertainment for NYC Pride. “Since the start of my time with NYC Pride, I’ve been very intentional about working with community leaders and organizations to build inclusive programs during Pride, specifically highlighting our more marginalized communities under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella,” she told GO. “I am proud to have a seat at a table that provides so much joy and a feeling of what liberation could look like.”
Each year’s LGBTQIA+ Pride events commemorate the Stonewall Uprising of 1969 — the beginning of the modern Gay Rights Movement. The official parade route weaves through Lower Manhattan, traverses south on Fifth Avenue, through Greenwich Village, passing the Stonewall National Monument. In 2023, New York City’s official Pride theme was Strength in Solidarity, an apt reminder that Pride was born as a protest movement against bigotry wherever it manifests. Not that there wasn’t room to party, too. The actor and singer Billy Porter and the activist Randy Wicker were among this year’s grand marshals.