Home Culture Hoboken Resident to Be Honored in NYC’s Pride March

Hoboken Resident to Be Honored in NYC’s Pride March

by Eliot Hudson
Attain Medspa
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One of Hoboken’s Civil Rights icons will be honored as a Grand Marshal in this years NYC Pride March. Randy Wicker has lived in Hoboken since 1976, and has been an LGBTQ+ rights activist for over half a century. This year, he’ll lead the entire Gay Pride Parade in a convertible, receiving the recognition and distinction he deserves after a lifetime of activism. Read on to learn more about this incredible Hoboken resident. 

randy wicker hoboken home lqbtq activist

The NYC Pride March

The NYC Pride March is an annual event celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and is one the largest Pride events in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants and spectators. It commemorates the June 1969 Riots which helped launched the LGBTQ+ rights movement. This year, the Parade will be held on Sunday, June 25th, beginning at 12PM. This year, the parade will be broadcast live on ABC. 

randy wicker hoboken resident pride parade

Photo credit: Randy Wicker

Randy’s Hoboken Connections

Randy moved into 1 Marine View Plaza in 1976 and boasts that he’s the first and only occupant of his apartment since the building’s construction.

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Randy came to Hoboken for the bargain rents and close proximity to Manhattan, where he owned an antique and lighting store for 29 years. It was here in Hoboken that Randy faced the AIDS epidemic which claimed the life of his partner.

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It’s also in Hoboken that Randy took in Marsha P. Johnson, a trans woman, and activist referred to as the “true Mother of Drag” by RuPaul. Randy and Marsha lived together as roommates for 12 years, from 1980 until Marsha’s death in 1992.

marsha johnson randy wicker

Photo credit: Randy Wicker

Coincidentally, Marsha rode in the lead car in 1980’s Pride Parade—the very year she moved to Hoboken and began living with Randy. Therefore, Randy’s Grand Marshaling will mark the second time a Hoboken resident will lead the parade.

Randy’s Activism

Randy was born in Plainfield, NJ and attended the University of Texas at Austin in the 1950s. Austin was where he was introduced to the gay rights movement upon discovering a copy of ONE, Inc. magazine—an early gay rights publications. At a time when homosexuals were called “homophiles,” Randy was on the front line of activism, printing flyers and publicizing gay rights events. 

Along with enthusiasm and drive, Randy’s calm, approachable demeanor allowed him to successfully conduct interviews on WBAI radio to dispel the “sickness theory of homosexuality” myth, which was promoted by many psychiatrists at the time. The 90-minute program aired in July of 1962 and is believed to be the first broadcast in the United States to openly discuss homosexuality in such a way. Following that broadcast’s publicity and success, Randy became one of the most visible gay people in New York, speaking to church groups and college classes. 

In 1964, Randy became the first openly gay person on East Coast television when he appeared on The Les Crane Show in Pittsburgh. That same year, Randy organized the first known gay rights demonstration in the United States, picketing NYC’s Whitehall Street Induction Center when the confidentiality of gay men’s draft records was violated.

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The Sip-In

Randy also holds a note of distinction as being the last living person to participate in “The Sip-In”—one of the most famous acts of gay civil disobedience in the United States, three years before the Stonewall Riots. In 1966, a gay person’s mere presence at a bar could result in their expulsion for being “disorderly.” The New York Chapter of the Mattachine Society—an early, national gay rights organization with which Randy was affiliated—decided to challenge these discriminatory laws. The “Sip-In” emulated the non-violent, Civil Rights Movements’ “Sit-Ins” occurring throughout the south. Randy, along with three other members of New York’s Mattachine Society, went to Julius’ Bar in Greenwich Village, sat down at the bar, and declared:  “We are homosexuals. We are orderly, we intend to remain orderly, and we are asking for service.”

They were removed from the bar, but not before a New York Times reporter snapped the now-famous photograph which hangs both at Julius’ Bar and at the Stonewall National Monument.

stonewall monument hoboken

The ensuing court battle resulted in the courts’ ruling that gay patrons had the right to peacefully assemble, thereby overturning the “disorderly” premise. 

randy wicker stonewall monument

During the famous Stonewall Riots three years later, Randy urged many to remain calm, afraid that a civilian death could result in gays becoming “the bogey-man of the seventies.” Randy preached that “throwing rocks through windows doesn’t open doors.”

For all his activism, Randy has been memorialized at the Stonewall National Monument in Greenwich Village. 

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