On June 26, New York City’s 47th annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride March took place, organized by Heritage of Pride (HOP) to celebrate the anniversary of the start of the Stonewall Rebellion, considered the birth of the Gay Liberation Movement, in 1969, as well as President Barack Obama’s June 24 designation of Stonewall Inn and neighboring Christopher Park, where rebellion began, as a National Monument, while remaining mindful of the 49 assassinated and 53 injured by the late Omar Mateen at Pulse bar, in Orlando, Florida, on June 12. As tens of thousands marched in what may have been the biggest Pride March in NYC history, “We Are Orlando” and names and faces of those who died resonated on individuals’ signs and on organizations and businesses’ floats.
Numerous LGBT organizations, such as New York’s LGBT Community Center, PFLAG—Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, GMHC—Gay Men’s Health Crisis, GAAMC—Gay Activist Alliance in Morris County, and Gays Against Guns, doing a dramatic lie-down on the street, were represented. There were Jewish groups and Muslim groups, Quakers, Catholic, and other Christian groups; and Asian, African, Latin American, and Native American groups. Elected officials and those running for election or reelection marched. There was plenty of drag and plenty of leather. LGBT New York City firefighters, police, coast guard, hospital workers, and other union members were present. Performing groups, such as the Big Apple Corps and its Marching Band, the Queer Urban Orchestra, the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, and Stonewall Chorale, had contingents. Democratic clubs and sports and athletic groups were there. HOP’s list of participating contingents, in 14 sections, plus the leaders and elected officials, ran for 70 pages.
Spouse Joe Saporito and I marched downtown along Fifth Avenue, as always, with the Eagle NYC bar/Leather contingent, helping to carry the 20-by-40-foot Leather Pride flag, made by Mr. South Africa Leather 2013 Johann Jooste and lent by Philadelphia Leather Pride Night producer Cowboi Jen. It was my 46th Pride March and my 14th with Joe. Joining us were Eagle co-owner Derek Danton, past and present leather and bear titleholders from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New England, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Iowa, and Israel; Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence; New York City Pups and Handlers; Masters and slaves Together, and Folsom Street East crew members, as well as International Ms. Leather 2016 Lascivious Jane and International Mr. Leather 2016 David “Tigger” Bailey.
During our long day, which began with Paul Kimball and Barry Sorkin’s Pride brunch and ended with Pride fireworks, we saw the rainbow Pride, Equality, Peace NYPD patrol car, with “Our Heart Goes out to Orlando” on the window; icon China on the TD Bank float; and Gusty Winds on the American Express one; and Sherry Vine with GMHC’s Krishna Stone; Queen of Studio 54 Rollerena and America’s Drag Superstar Bianca Del Rio, and Porsche with designer Michael Vincent at reviewing stands, as well as many other friends, neighbors, and former co-workers.