Gainesville native marches in NYC Pride Parade

by Fiona Llama

On June 25 in Manhattan, the anticipation was building. I waited in my holding area for the New York City based company with which I was marching. It was just outside a lovely Asian restaurant that the company had rented out for a few hours on the corner of 16th Street and 9th Avenue.

About 200 employees and plus ones had turned out for the annual LGBTQ Pride March. Those most closely involved insist on calling the event a March as it is intended to continue to raise awareness about the need for Gay Rights and, therefore, acts more as a protest march than a celebration parade.

The reason I was involved for the second year running is that as a straight ally of the LGBTQ community, I feel strongly that Gay Rights are Human Rights. It’s as simple as that.

So I was a plus one for my boyfriend, who is the straight ally liaison for his company.

I did see some striking outfits along the way. Men of all ages wearing glamorous feathered, bejeweled, or even spiked head dresses. Men in super high heels. Men in drag. Men in leather. Men in thongs getting spray painted. And women nude from the waist up.

In NYC, you see it all, but the theme of an event like this is a message of acceptance. It goes beyond tolerance. It is a statement of validation that who a person is attracted to and falls in love with does not mean he or she should be denied any human rights.

In the end, all people want and need to feel welcome and accepted just as they are.

One new thing about this year was the route. Whereas before it had gone south on 5th Avenue to Greenwich Village, this year it went south down 7th Avenue, east through the Village, and north along 5th Avenue.

The reason for the change is to prepare for next year’s World Pride Day and March. The new route was decided on for this year in order to give it a trial run. It seemed to work fine although the enthusiasm among the spectators along 5th Avenue was much stronger than that of the first two legs of the route, which was good.

Last year, I remember my waves to the crowd being met with waves in response, but it was less so at the beginning of the day. But once we got to 5th Avenue, the crowds were very into it, with full throttle cheers of “Happy Pride,” and that was much more fun.

My boyfriend and I are committed to supporting LGBTQ rights. We are all human; let’s be nice to each other regardless of who you love.D

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