The first official event of World Pride Month kicked off last week at the fabulous Arlo Hotel in New York City. The art-focused soiree celebrated the World Pride Mural Project, an initiative that honors the beauty, struggle, and strides of the LGBTQIA+ community.

A multi-locational art installment, the World Pride Mural Project is a collective of both local and international artists.  The artists were selected to create murals within the five boroughs of New York. These boroughs, combined, make New York one of the most diverse regions in America. The ambitious project is a collaboration between NYC Pride, production and curation partner, LISA Project NYC, founding partner, HSBC, and significant supporting partner, Macy’s.

America’s biggest brands come together for Pride

In a press release by NYC Pride, it shared the purpose behind the WorldPride Mural Project initiative, “Expression of self is an art form for the LGBTQIA+ community. So, when thinking about the monumental task of hosting the first WorldPride in the United States — in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising — we knew we had to create something that would express our defiance, our fears, our gratitude, and our Pride. The artists behind these creations, and sometimes massive, works of art breathe even more life into an already vibrant city. It is an honor and a privilege to welcome the world to New York for this historical event, so we are painting the town.”

Arlo Soho boutique hotel was the perfect setting for the WorldPride Mural Project. Some of New York City’s most unforgettable characters mingled in Arlo’s whimsical courtyard– a space that is an artistic representation in itself. Adorned with spectacular, vibrant silk flowers and greenery, the outdoor space transported guests to a botanical oasis. Signature cocktails were served, in accordance with savory platters of charcuterie, mini shrimp tacos, and mini burger sliders. An eclectic live DJ set added hours of good vibes throughout the night.

The Legacy of a life-changing movement

NYC Pride’s Executive Director, Chris Frederick, joined partnership affiliates to welcome and thank the large crowd of Pride enthusiasts. Now in his 1oth year leading the NYC Pride organization, Chris’ vision has helped increase awareness of raising money for grants and donations they provide various other nonprofit organizations.  Their budget has grown substantially from $700,000 in 2009, to $12,000,000 in 2019. Various events and initiatives throughout the year such as the Mural Project help to make such advances possible.

New York City street artist, Buff Monster colors a large, pop-art mural.

Also in attendance at Arlo were a few of the featured artists of the World Pride Mural Project.  New York native, Indie184, shared with me her inspiration for “Speak your Power,” a massive mural on the interior wall of the courtyard.

The larger-than-life piece projects strength and beauty – much like the artist who created it. In a testament to universal self-awareness, Ind184 explained the message behind the piece, “I actually live my work, and I know it may sound cliché to say that, but I do. I believe in speaking your power, and what that means is you have to advocate for yourself because nobody is going to do it for you. So don’t be afraid. Speak out! I did a previous painting called, “Own your power,” and for Pride… the theme was to “speak” your power.”

As the evening wined down, I caught up with Arlo’s Corporate PR Director, Hannah Redfield to discuss the hotel’s partnership with the World Pride Mural Project. Throughout different seasons, Arlo embarks upon exciting creative collaborations with many LGBTQ artists and their allies. Expressing the brand’s mission of inclusion, Redfield stressed the importance of making international LGBTQ tourists and locals feel welcomed, just as they do year-round at their properties in both New York, and Miami.

Millions of people are expected to descend on New York for World Pride festivities. They will inevitably explore all that the city has to offer. Whether the March carries them through neighborhoods that are intricately tied to the LGBTQIA+ community, or they venture out to other boroughs, the WorldPride Mural Project will serve as a beacon of Pride.