Monday, June 29, 2015

An Extra Happy Pride Parade in New York This Year

Two days after the historic Supreme Court decision making marriage equality the law of the land, New York and many other cities had their Gay Pride parades.
Gay Pride parades are always joyful uninhibited events, but this one was especially happy.  I was high-fived by scores of perfect strangers along the route.

Here are my photos of the 2015 Gay Pride Parade in New York.

Rainbow flags everywhere!

The exuberant man in the foreground is Weiben Wang.

It never ceases to amaze me how big the annual parade in New York is.  The parade was so big this year that it started at 12:30 and finally ended at 8PM.  This is how 5th Avenue looked from about 37th street at 6PM.  This year's parade was the biggest since 1994 (Stonewall 25 plus the Gay Games that year), and might have been bigger.

This is looking back up 5th Avenue from where we were.  We were toward the end of the parade, but where that is here, I don't know.

What's a Pride parade without spectacle and extravagance?

From the float of a Brazilian contingent

Fierce!  From the Colombian contingent

A freelancer marching in the parade

More Brazilians

Part of the Caribbean contingent

Sometimes the best show at these Pride parades is the spectators.

Lots of people climbed things to get a better look, until the cops told them to get down off of there.

Where else but at a Pride parade would you see a morass of glitter?

One of many emcees.

 Marble Collegiate Church where Adlai Stevenson once said he found "the Apostle Paul appealing and the Apostle Peale appalling."  Norman Vincent Peale would hardly recognize the place now.

Norman Vincent Peale with a rainbow flag.  He would not be amused, but who cares.  Everyone was thinking positive on 5th Avenue that day.

 The Empire State Building with the Episcopal float in the foreground.

 The Flatiron Building

 And the sun comes out!  I thought the weather was perfect with highs in the 70sF.  This was one of the few years where I wasn't dripping with sweat and prostrate with heat exhaustion at the parade.

 A lot of big corporate contingents in the parade this year; I saw Target, Google, Microsoft, Goldman-Sachs,  H&M, and others.  They all had huge contingents of employees and their own original floats, many with lots of tech gadgets like jumbotrons featuring animated productions made for the parade.  The Google float had one kick-ass DJ who really got the crowds going.

I'm not sure what I think of all this.

Big Gay is watching.
Part of a large boom camera broadcasting the parade on someone's live feed somewhere.

 Christopher Street

 The Stonewall where it all started.
The original Stonewall included the building on the right under scaffold.

 Our little contingent from Saint Luke in the Fields

 Some Episcopalians love their church because their church stood up for them and didn't back down despite a lot of international scorn and pressure.

 The Episcopal Church float this year.  All the bishops were at Convention in Salt Lake City.

 The always friendly people at Ascension with water for the marchers.  The Presbyterians and the Reformed Church folks up the Avenue ran out of water (the parade was bigger than expected), so this was very welcome.  Leave it to Episcopalians to put lemons in their ice water.

 A colorful bouquet with Pride bunting in Saint Luke in the Fields.

The World Trade Center lit up for Pride Day that night from Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

The Empire State Building from Williamsburg in Brooklyn that night.

I read a lot of complaints on Facebook about the media limiting their coverage of Pride to celebrities and what they think;  Governor Cuomo performing a marriage for a couple of rich white guys and the latest on what Caitlyn Jenner or Taylor Swift thinks about anything.
The real story is the thousands upon thousands who showed up to celebrate a major revolution in their relationship to their own country and to society.  I think the most interesting tales (which have yet to be told as far as I know) are of towns and cities and states where Gay Pride was observed by anyone for the very first time.
All of those people you see in the photos above marching in the parade or watching it are the real stars of this show.

I never thought I would ever see marriage equality anywhere, let alone spreading around the world, and now finally in the world's last imperial super-power; all of it.

I'm thinking that maybe this will be my last Pride parade (at least for marching).  At my age, standing waiting for our section to join the parade for hours is murder on my back, and my 57 year old bladder is not as capacious as it once was (New York is getting even less generous with facilities; no more free porto-potties in the age of terrorism and budget constraints).  My dogs were barking when I went to bed last night.

And yet, I had so much fun!  I always have fun at the parade!


JCF said...

[I may have shared this before. Speaking of aging!]

In the Summer of 1975, my family drove all the way from California, up the Eastern Seaboard, and back again (4 people, inc 2 teenagers, jammed in a pick-up cab: need I mention we were barely speaking to each other after the 2 months when we got back? ;-/)

[Perhaps you can guess where this is going]

By late June, we were staying w/ relatives in Montclair NJ, using that as our springboard to explore the Big Apple. [For 13 yo me, NYC was MIND-blowing!] One day, on one of our ventures, we walked down a street, and saw a police barrier ahead. What was going on? I'll never forget my mom's joyful announcement: "Oh, it's a PARADE!" What parade?

The cheer approached, getting louder: "Two, Four, Six, Eight: We Don't Over-Populate!" *LOL* [Our elders had NO rights, but they did have, as always, their sense of humor]

Most touching: elderly woman, walking w/ young man, sign-board: "My Son's Gay and That's OK"

I don't know if they even had rainbows by '75. But I think they did have barely dressed men, and topless women, and that's when my mom hustled us away.

New York City Gay Pride, 1975: I was there! :-D

[And for Yours Truly, the rest is (easily explainable) history! ;-p~~~]

JCF said...

I also "stumbled upon" Lesbian & Gay Pride San Francisco, 1980 (which definitely did have rainbows---and near-nekkid guys dancing on floats). And then The Plague struck... :-(

Counterlight said...

You've had much more experience at this than I've had. My first gay pride march was in Saint Louis in 1988. I had a great time. Saint Louis had its first Gay Pride march in 1979 to mark the 10th anniversary of Stonewall, and for about 8 or 9 years the march was about 100 people running a gauntlet of hecklers on Euclid Avenue. Then suddenly in 1987, a thousand people showed up for the parade and the hecklers went home. In 1988, it was 2000 people. I think the Plague and Saint Louis' piss poor response to it and the anger that caused finally got people onto the streets.

In the 1970s in New York, the Pride parade used to originate on Christopher Street and go up 6th Avenue to Central Park for a rally. I always like the symbolism of marching out of the gay ghetto into the rest of the world. The magnitude of today's march makes the logistics for returning to that old symbolism impossible.

JCF said...

"You've had much more experience at this than I've had."

Nah, I didn't *intentionally* go to Pride till NYC ~1991 (when I was at UTS). I came out in Portland OR in 1987: why wasn't I going to Pride there? :-/ [Though admittedly, I came out as Bi, and bisexuals weren't really officially a part of Pride parades till the early-mid 90s, IIRC.]

The Aughts, in Michigan, were really my decade of Pride: I think I went to Lansing (once to Grand Rapids) every year. Here in Sacramento now, only if it's not Too Hot! ;-/