On Sunday, June 26th, 2016 I had the pleasure of attending and participating in the LGBT Pride Parade held in New York City. The parade began on 36th street and 5th avenue where along the strip passed floats of people of the LGBT community, dancing, waving their LGBT flags, spreading the concept that “Love is Love” and everyone should be allowed to love who they want despite their sexual orientation and be granted the same equal rights as everyone else. People were passing out LGBT free wristbands and everything was colorful, bright and cheerful. Coming out to the parade I was greeted by a variety of music, diverse people (who constantly smiled back at me), topless women, great food and drinks. If you are wondering why there are topless women, it is because they are making a statement that if men are allowed to be topless, women should be granted the same equal right as well as showing women that they should be comfortable in their bodies and be proud of who they are. This topless movement aides what the Pride parade is all about. There were many other strong supporters as well who want nothing more than to see the LGBT community granted equality, especially marriage equality, as well as gun control for (considering the massacre of the Orlando shooting) for example, Hillary Clinton, Mayor DeBlasio, and Al Sharpton participated in marching and waving to the crowds in the parade and spreading the concept that everyone should be allowed to love who they want without facing discrimination. Other celebrities that attended the parade were the cast of the hit series on Netflix, “Orange is the New Black.”
On June 12, a few weeks prior to the Pride parade, a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 others inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This massacre was the deadliest act of violence against the LGBT community to ever occur in US history. Not only was I hesitant prior to attending the NYC parade but the friends that accompanied me as well as others who attended felt fearful of their lives, not knowing what could happen to them at any moment. Many of the floats that passed had words that read, “Pray for Orlando”, “Gays Against Guns”, “No Guns, No Hate”, “Dancing for Orlando”, “We Stand with Orlando”, “Supporting Orlando” etc. One float that touched everyone that it encountered while passing down the street was an Orlando float that not only had all of these words surrounding it but it had pictures and names of all of the people killed in the massacre. It gave people a chance to reflect on what had occurred and how the LGBT community is constantly being targeted. There was also the promotion of gun control in the parade which shared mutual grounds for everyone. On 53rd Christopher Street, in front of a gay bar called “Stonewall”, there were pictures and flowers and posters as well as names for the people who were killed in the Orlando shooting. After the parade many went to pay their respects or either leave flowers, a note, a prayer, a picture or a poster for those who passed. That area was quiet as people reflected on what had occurred.
I asked people who attended the parade (all who wanted to remain anonymous) what pride meant to them and they replied to me, “Pride is standing up for what you believe in,” said one woman. “Hey this parade is supposed to show that not only do we have pride for ourselves but pride in how far we have come, the first LGBT march became a riot, look at us now,” replied another. “This parade is supposed to show that we are all human beings and we should be allowed to live our lives the way we want. It’s sad that we still have to fight for that equality,” replied another female of the group.
I asked people what it meant to attend pride after learning of the Orlando shooting and a few people replied to me from a group saying, “I was kind of skeptical about coming because you never know what’s going to happen but I’m glad I came out” one girl replied to me while another said, “I was a little hesitant about it, but you know I can’t live my life in fear, if something is going to happen then it’s going to happen, shit, if I die I’m gonna die with my people, tomorrow isn’t promised today, feel me? One woman replied after saying, “I felt like it was even more important to come out this year than any other year, it’s important to stay strong and have unity in our community.”
One woman was upset at the festivities that occur after the parade, “I felt that after parties should have been more advertised but I understand why they weren’t after the Orlando shooting. I’m a lil fearful of walking into gay clubs but not too much to keep me away, I’m going to go regardless and have a good time, I just can’t live my life like that, something could happen today or tomorrow.”
Almost every person that I had spoken to at the Pride parade were fearful about attending the parade. One of the lesbian couples that I spoke to explained that if one of them were going then they both had to go, “I told her, I said, “Babe if you’re going then I have to go in case anything happens then at least were together.” Her girlfriend replied after saying, “My best friend refused to come, I tried to make him come out with us, he was using other excuses for why he didn’t want to come but man you really can’t live like that, anything can happen to you anywhere at any time, I say everything happens for a reason, if it wasn’t going to happen here it would be somewhere else, since the massacre I already knew that more security would be enforced and that’s even more of a reason to come out.”
You can’t attend the LGBT Pride Parade and not crack a smile on your face. Once you reach 5th avenue you are greeted by the colorful environment, rainbow colored flags hanging all over the city, people telling you “Happy Pride!,” the music pumping floats, the dancers, the topless women, the people giving out free hugs and free wristbands, the great food and drinks. You see the amazing outfits and long heels that people of the transgender community stunt in. Pride was an amazing experience for me from the time I arrived in the city. My friends and I joined the parade along with other bystanders and we jumped and danced to the music playing. We were told “Happy Pride” by the officers that smiled and knew we weren’t apart of the parade but seemed to be glad that we made ourselves an addition. People were cheering us on and we ran up to them giving them “Hi Fives” and free hugs. After the parade everyone hangs out and vibes and gets to know each other, the festivities don’t end after the parade is over, it’s more like it’s just the beginning of what will be a great night of dancing, going to clubs, drinking, hanging out and meeting new people. Attending this parade is one filled with much positive vibes and love that makes a great statement, everyone is human no matter their sexual orientation and they should be allowed to live their lives the way that they want. I encourage anyone who has not attended LGBT Pride Parade to see what they are missing.