On Sunday I went to the New York City LGBTQ Pride Parade, and it was quite the experience. Never having been to a pride parade before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I arrived about an hour early and the sidewalks were already filling with onlookers. There was a giant rainbow-colored balloon structure at the parade start, and on every corner were venders hawking rainbow flags. The attendees were a diverse mix of gays and straights, drag queens and bears (heavy and hairy gay men), families and scantily clad boy toys.
The overall atmosphere was extremely festive, and it was perhaps the most festive parade that I have ever had the pleasure of attending. With the recent Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop 8, participants told me it would be biggest pride parade ever. While I cannot verify that claim, I can say that the LGBT community certainly knows how to throw a party.
Before the official start of the parade I went (unsuccessfully) looking for the mayoral candidates. But I had to settle for some Quinn campaign material, though I did end up chatting with a Weiner supporter. He said that even though he’s gay, he could not support Christine Quinn for mayor. When I asked him why, he said that he thought that she was just plain corrupt. He then said that Weiner couldn’t be corrupt since “they don’t let guys whose dick is on the internet in on the corruption.” So I guess Weiner’s got that going for him.
Despite being nowhere in sight herself, you couldn’t walk five feet on 5th without running into a Christine Quinn sign, and scattered on the ground were dozens of campaign flyers and pamphlets. And on almost every corner there were Quinn volunteers asking if you were a registered Democratic, and whom you supported in the primary. As I was making my across 37th st, I saw the Quinn even had a large float devoted to the campaign.
In contrast, the Weiner effort was limited to the candidate marching in the parade with a bullhorn. He did receive a raucous reception, with the crowd cheering “Weiner! Weiner! Weiner!” Whether they were supporters of his campaign, referring to his sexting scandal, or simply amused by his funny sounding name, the exposure worked out in his favor.
At a little past noon, the parade opened with the national anthem and the great spectacle began. The grand marshal was Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the DOMA case. She sat in a car wearing a wide-brimmed sun hat and a wide grin on her face. Throughout the rest of the parade there were people holding signs emblazoned with an image of her face, thanking her for helping take down DOMA. The feeling I got was that when the annals of history are written about the gay rights movement, Edith Windsor will be featured quite prominently.
The rest of the parade was exactly what you would expect. A lot of drag queens, a lot of dancing, a lot of rainbows, and a lot of politicians. In addition to the mayoral candidates, big time political players including Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, and US Senator Chuck Schumer were all marching alongside gays and lesbians. They say that the most dangerous place in Washington is between Chuck Schumer and a microphone, but instead of that particular audio device it was a bullhorn that the senator grasped in his hand. Simultaneously showing solidarity with the LGBT community and tooting his own (bull)horn, exclaimed “I was the first senator to march in this parade, but I won’t be the last.” Gee, thanks Chuck.