Friday, July 8, 2011

More Than Just A Parade: NYC's Gay Pride Parade 2011

On November 2, 1969, the first gay pride parade was organized in New York City by American gay rights activist, Craig Rodwell. Today, the march has evolved into a week long celebration known as Gay Pride Week, during which numerous rallies and festivities take place in support of the LGBT community.   There is another difference, however, between this year’s events and the first parade that took place over 40 years ago. This year, there was something new to celebrate.

On June 24, 2011, just two days before NYC Pride, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law legalizing same-sex marriage in the state of New York.  New York is now just one of six states nationwide in which same-sex marriage is permitted.  With this new and exciting news, hundreds upon hundreds of people from New York and nationwide came out to make this year’s parade one to remember.  

GET DOWN's New York based partner organization, FACES NY was there to show their support with a float of their own.  The parade began at noon on Sunday, June 26th at 36th street & 5th Avenue and ended at Christopher & Greenwich Streets in The Village.  

Our partner FACES NY entered the parade at 37th Street on a large float themed “Paris is Burning.”  Those who participated wore either a fire inspired costume or dressed in a red, orange or yellow shirt. At the center of the float was a reconstruction of the Eiffel Tower in flames.  Throughout the course of the parade, I was able to speak with many young people to get their opinions on the passage of the same-sex marriage bill.  According to Kristin, 22, of New York, this is “the greatest thing that could have happened to the city.”


Chelsea, 18, of New York said, “I was excited because we [the LGBT community] fall in love, too and we all wanna get married.  We have our own plans and desires, you know, like everybody else. I felt that it was fair and about time!”  The large turnout at NYC Pride proved that many people share the opinions of these two young women. Jay, of New York, however, brought a different opinion to the table in response to New York’s latest legislative reform. 
Jay, an HIV education counselor in the New York area, stated “I think it’s a wonderful first step, but I do believe that as a man of color, who is a man of same sex desires, that there are a plethora of issues that the black and brown communities should see as more important than gay marriage.  We’re more likely to be incarcerated for crime, we are more likely to be poor, more likely to drop out of school, more likely to catch HIV/AIDS.  There are so many other things that I feel our white brothers and sisters within the LGBT community are not comfortable with addressing.”  While Jay recognizes the positive impact of the same-sex marriage bill on the LGBT community, he brings to light the fact that there are still many issues facing minorities within the gay community; issues that he believes are of greater importance.  
Overall, the 2011 Gay Pride Parade was a joyous and celebratory event.  I, like many others along the parade route, believe we should consider the efforts of New York’s Governor Cuomo a step in the right direction for New Yorker’s and the LGBT community as a whole.
--Rebecca Florcyzk
GET DOWN Youth Blog Squad

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