An embrace at the Christopher Street Pier
’s intimate portraits illustrate seemingly banal but seductive moments—often in urban environments like nightclubs, bus stations, city streets and parks—to stirring effect. He has published five monographs of his work to date and is represented by in New York and in Berlin.
For NYC Pride’s 2022 comeback, we asked Renaldi to capture celebrants in the West Village, where he resides and has been making pictures for years, and to describe his interactions and the impact of the event.
What was your experience photographing the return of Pride to the West Village this year? How would you describe the energy?
Richard Renaldi: Though 2022 was the first official Pride since the pandemic, there were alternative Pride Marches in 2020 and 2021, the latter of which was possibly the most energetic I had ever experienced. New York City was just coming out of lockdown, and Covid vaccinations were making their way through the population. This year felt more subdued, but by most metrics it was off-the-hook fun.
What drew you to your subjects?
RR: I chose subjects that projected a positive spirit and presented a sense of individuality. On Christopher Street, I met a group of young LGBTQ+ kids from North Carolina who came up to New York City to celebrate Pride—their enthusiasm and excitement for being here for Pride was palpable. I found it touching, and their youthful exuberance was infectious. They reminded me of a time in my own coming of age when I attended NYC Pride events and felt the affirmation of seeing so many other LGBTQ+ people in the streets.
As a longtime photographer of LGBTQ+ culture in the West Village, what stands out to you about the neighborhood and how it has changed?
RR: I have lived and worked in the West Village for close to 30 years. It’s gone through enormous changes, like all of New York City, [but] people still stroll the tree-lined streets and visit the shops and restaurants throughout the neighborhood. As the demographics continue to shift to more of an upper-class enclave with unaffordable housing for most, I say: Thank goodness for the queer history of Christopher Street and the bars and nightclubs that surround Stonewall Park. The LGBTQ+ history and its presence ground this neighborhood, making it vibrant in a way that other neighborhoods are not. For that, I am eternally grateful.