June has been crazy busy around here, Much of it has been consumed with my move from one end of Brooklyn to another, plus there’s been a number of concerts, live podcasts, end of school/fiscal year celebrations, etc. And because of the stress and excitement of all those things, I kind of let it slide that June is Pride Month. I mean, it’s not as though I forgot completely, and I’ve worked various pride events that my employer put on. But this is my first pride as an officially out bisexual, and as the end of the month approached, I felt woefully unprepared.
This past Sunday was the official NYC Pride Parade, among other events. I felt like I should go, but I was torn. I was nervous about going alone; the queer friends I would normally go with were all whisked away to weddings for the weekend, and the straight friends who I would ask to go with me ended up having to work. I’m still sort of figuring out my place in the LGBTQ+ scene here in New York, and in general. I’m constantly going back and forth between “Am I queer enough to be in this space?” and “BISEXUALS EXIST AND ARE VALID GODDAMNIT.” So I was apprehensive about going into this long-existing queer space and not really knowing what to do. I’m not really a people person — or at least not a “let’s-go-to-this-place-and-be-surrounded-by-people” person. I was unsure of Pride etiquette. And I didn’t have anything to wear because of the whole moving thing.
Still, I felt…obligated, I guess. So I posted in my meet-up group to see if anyone had plans I could crash. There were a few takers, and I ended up spending the afternoon with some acquaintances walking around the West Village and attempting to enjoy the parade and the PrideFest street fair.
Like most parades, Pride has become fairly corporate. Big companies sponsor floats for promotion, but also as a show of support for their LGBTQ+ employees. Even with the logos, seeing the sparkly floats roll past as they blasted Whitney Houston and Cher was one of my favorite parts. The street fair, on the other hand, was perhaps a little too commercialized for my tastes. I listened to my guides lament the lack of independent vendors that used to line Hudson Street in previous years. Still, corporations buying tent space = lots of free promotional swag. And the food was good. So, it’s not all bad.
The parade itself is hard to get a good view of without arriving super early, and my cohorts and I were not about that “getting up early on Sunday” life. Instead, we perched on some scaffolding to watch at least a little of the parade, which brought my favorite moment of the afternoon: the great roar of joy when the Park Rangers carrying the Stonewall National Monument banner passed our section. I didn’t hear a louder cheer all afternoon.
We moved farther down the parade route, and I perched myself on a potted plant where I stayed for another hour, until my feet fell asleep and I sweat through my dress and I decided to call it night. I think if I had had more time to dedicate to my attendance, I would have been more enthusiastic. I might have gotten up early and found a good spot on the parade route, right up against the barricades (because I love a parade, but it kind of sucks when you can’t really see and there’s a very small tree digging into your calf). I would have bought this shirt and been ready for the crowds, and I probably wouldn’t have spent the entire day beforehand moving.
But despite my lack of preparation, I did have fun. Maybe next year I will plan better. Maybe I will attend the slightly more low-key Brooklyn Pride and stay true to my personal brand of almost never leaving my chosen borough. But this year, I left sweaty, covered in glitter, and with free toothpaste. And I think that probably counts as a success.