NYC Pride March Marks Stonewall Rebellion’s 45th Anniversary
By Bruce-Michael Gelbert, with Joseph R. Saporito
New York City’s 45th annual LGBT Pride March, along the lavender line, from 36th Street and Fifth Avenue down to Christopher Street, took place on June 29 and marked the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969, considered the birth of the Gay Liberation Movement. It was the 44th march for Bruce-Michael, Mr. Fire Island Leather 2001, and 12th for Joe, Mr. FI Leather 2005, and Bruce-Michael together.
As we waited on 38th Street for the Eagle NYC truck and the rest of the Leather contingent to enter the line of march, we saw: New York State elected officials Governor Andrew Cuomo, Congress Members Jerry Nadler and Carolyn B. Maloney, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, and openly gay Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, Rosie O’Donnell’s brother; Sean Patrick Maloney, openly gay candidate for Congress; Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) from various regions; the Butch/Femme Society; the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD); NYC Fire and Police Department organizations, including the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL); GLSEN, the It Gets Better Project, the Trevor Project, and the NYC Anti-Violence Project; the New York City Parks Whitman Society; NYC’s LGBT Community Center; the Flaggots, twirling their flags; Caribbean American Pride, its members in colorfully feathered costumes and headgear; the Lesbian Herstory Archives, celebrating its 39th year; and, assembling on the same block as us, Gay Activist Alliance in Morris County, founded in 1972, with its President, Q News’ own Sherri Rase; ACT UP; and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.
Our chosen task, during the march, was to be among the many Leatherman proudly carrying and waving the 20-by-40-foot Leather Pride flag, made in South Africa last year, especially for Philadelphia Leather Pride Night (PLPN), by Mr. South Africa Leather 2013 Johann Jooste, and lent to us by PLPN Producer Cowboi Jen. Valiantly coordinating this effort was Mr. Eagle NYC 2011 CB Kirby and numbering among those sharing the work of displaying the red, white, black, and blue flag were Messrs. NYC Eagle 2013 Arsenio Amadis and 2014 CeeJay Lyons; Mr. Connecticut Leather 2014 Omar L. Boots; Mr. FI Leather 2004 Jeff Goodman; Mr. North American Bear 2012 Jed Ryan; Montana Vasquez; and Front Runner Miguel Barrios, who ran the Pride Run in Central Park the previous day. Also present were Eagle proprietor Derek Danton; Messrs. Eagle 2007 and 2008 Rick Weber and Peter Schwartz; and Mr. FI Leather 2014 Victor Skolnik. Rollerena greeted us near Madison Square Park and shout-outs came to us from activist Leatherwoman Jo Arnone at 36th Street and from singers Porsche and Jennifer McClain near Washington Square Park.
NYC Pride–From the Inside
by Sherri Rase
My name is Sherri Rase and I’m a volunteer-a-holic (“Hi Sherr!”). I’ve been volunteering all of my life, and almost professionally, pun-intended, since I moved to New Jersey. This year, one day after the 45th anniversary of Stonewall, I did something that was totally out of the realm of my prior experience. I participated *in* the NYC Pride March, on Sunday June 29, 2014.
I have helped organize Jersey Pride’s event in Asbury Park since the early days. Through Jersey Pride, I became friends with some of the people I hold most dear who organize NYC Pride, Heritage of Pride. In the past 20 plus years, I’ve worked for Heritage of Pride for the Rally, volunteered with Jersey Pride in the Festival in NYC—back in the days when you couldn’t get a Pride t-shirt or Pride tchotchkes on every corner—and it just seemed overwhelming to march in the celebration—until this year.
I just turned 50 on my most recent birthday and it seems like someone threw a switch. I’m doing things I never dreamed of doing–kicking doors down in my mind and reaching further and stronger than I ever have before. Fifty must really BE the new 30, ’cause I’m feeling it! I’m also the President of Gay Activist Alliance in Morris County this year and GAAMC has marched in every March since the very beginning of marches in NYC. It’s the oldest continually active LGBT organization in the state of New Jersey—this year, I HAD to represent!
I monitored the weather closely before the event. My Pride event coordinator made a Facebook event where we all posted tips for one another for the big day. Several other March Virgins were with us, but our colleagues were most gentle. Group 10 formed up, and nearly three hours later, we stepped off.
What can describe the feeling of being part of a celebration that literally extends for miles? That closes a main artery of a world city? That’s lined by three times the number of marchers–one million of us marching and three million cheering us on? Trust me, seeing the Empire State Building and the Flatiron Building from the MIDDLE of Fifth Avenue is quite a different experience from the familiar sidewalks of New York. Yet the most amazing feeling was the peaceful enjoyment of the crowd. Don’t get me wrong–there was plenty of dancing, catcalls, merriment and frivolity, nudity, costumes and flag waving. Everyone who was there lining the route was there because someone marching was a friend or family, or people who come every year to enjoy the pageantry and the floats. Some were there to protest, but all were peaceful. Everyone got along.
By the time we had waved, smiled and marched from 38th and Madison down nearly all the way to the Hudson, we were all exhausted. We got a second wind and went our separate ways, each of us sharing some moments and cherishing the entire experience. Someone may ask you to join them sometime on a journey of discovery, just when you think you’ve seen it all. The truth of the matter is, you haven’t really seen the March until you've seen it from the inside.
PS. I’ll be back NEXT year!