June 29, 2017 at 5:44 am EDT | by Ditshego Ditshego
Love trumps hate at NYC Pride

A participant in the New York City Pride parade marches through Greenwich Village on June 25, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Ditshego Ditshego)

So what do you get when you give a marginalized but phenomenal (and sizeable) group in society all the rights they demand, then take them away, with some of them dying in the process? You get one of the best Pride parades in the history of the most cosmopolitan city in the world of course.

The New York City Pride march was first held in 1970 and has since become an annual civil rights demonstration. Over the years, its purpose has broadened to include recognition of the fight against AIDS and to remember those we have lost to illness, neglect, poverty and social inequalities, as well as racial issues with a special focus on those we have lost due to violence.

With LGBTIAQ+ rights in America under recently under threat, now more than ever under the new administration, this year’s parade had a more meaningful, urgent and perhaps even desperate tone to it. One might even argue that fighting for rights and equality, and finally winning and receiving those liberties, is actually worse than never having received them at all because the taste of freedom and choice is very hard to wipe from your lips and memory.

Yes, the smell of desperation, regret, and Old Spice was very pungent in the air, but that wasn’t enough to deter the gays or stop the annual party that is the stuff of cheap holiday blockbusters and urban legends (and that’s if you’re lucid enough to recall your deeds.) Everyone that mattered came out in their bright and shiny colors ready to paint the town pink, and with a theme like “We Are Proud”, the options were endless.

The imaginations were not restricted and given free reign to roam wild and free, and judging by the outrageous and very unconventional costumes and floats on display, they did just that. The madness and creativity didn’t there. Placards and banners with hilarious and sometimes vulgar slogans like “we STILL here, we STILL queer” and “orange is the new white” were the order of the day. The heavy police presence put everyone at ease (or paranoid depending on what you were smoking) and the event pretty much went on with very few hiccups, minus the very butch homophobes and religious fanatics who thought coming in cheap, mismatched, outdated drag could pass off as some sort of disguise, allowing them access into the crowd. Needless to say, they were dealt with swiftly and we proceeded with the anticipated drama.

With over 300 unique marching contingents, representing a vast array of nonprofits, community organizations, corporate partners, small businesses, political candidates and activists, and over 90 floats sashaying down Fifth Avenue, fun was had by all. Also, this writer and first time New Yorker inhaled copious amounts of glitter, so I suspect I’ll be farting rainbows for the next couple of days.

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