Yesterday was New York City's Gay Pride Parade and despite the large clouds, some rain and lots of humidity, the atmosphere was pretty damned joyous. New York knows how to throw a good old gay party like no other place in the world, and everyone it seemed was out celebrating.
For more than thirty years, the New York City Gay Pride Parade has attracted millions of people to what is arguably the gayest city in the world for this annual, week-long celebration of pride. The Stonewall Riots that took place at the now famous landmark in the city back in 1969 is widely accredited as the birth of the gay rights movement, which won its latest battle last week with the Supreme Court rulings on D.O.M.A. and California's Prop 8.
This year's Pride Parade was my third, and although it's always great to be a part of it, I don't think I will be going again for awhile. Experiencing the celebration is great, but despite the fun at showing your pride with a hundreds of thousands of other people, well, there are hundreds of thousands of them! Getting around by car is next to impossible, and getting around on foot is not much easier than that. Roads were blocked off all over the place and finding a good spot to watch is no easy task.
Hours upon hours were spent walking about with no real destination in mind. I went with my friend Kyle, and we were later joined by my pal Blanche and Kyle's pal Stephen. The temperature was steamy from the get go, and within a half an hour of getting to the parade, my shirt was soaking wet. We maneuvered through crowded streets and gated walkways, at times inching our way through some very tight, claustrophobic spaces. With all that, and some 'nutcrackers' thrown in (don't ask!), the whole day just "kicked my butt," as Kyle says.
Experiencing the Pride Parade can be frustrating, and if you're lucky enough to find a good spot to watch, that's when it becomes worth it. For a couple of hours, we were lucky enough to find a spot at Bedford and Christopher Streets, right towards the end of the parade route, from which we had a nice view of many of the entertaining groups of marchers and floats that make the thing such a spectacle.
Virtually every facet of life was represented, showing how gay people are diverse enough to represent every facet of life. Of course there were drag queens and leather daddies, wedded couples and corporate sponsored groups, but there was also the Butch Femme Society, baton twirlers, marching bands and the regal Imperial Court of New York, complete with a slew of female impersonators donning the likenesses of a 60's girl group, Lucy and Ricky, and the star of the Pride at the Pier Dance, Cher, among others.
Some of the biggest cheers, though, were reserved for the men in blue and red, gay and lesbian representatives of the NYPD and NYFD. The sheer number of them was a reminder of the openness of New York City culture, and an example of how things should be everywhere. The Pride Festival, an open air marketplace, greeted visitors towards the parade's end with delicious fare, vendors and musical entertainment, and just like the parade route, this area was teeming with people.
All in all, it takes a lot of stamina (and a few fresh moist towelettes) to spend a day at New York's Gay Pride Parade, but it's something every gay person in the NY Metro area should do at least once!Tweet