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Fifth Avenue, New York City
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
June 29, 2008    photo-album Bookmark and Share

Surely the drag queens of Stonewall, Class of ’69, must have been beaming with pride.  There she was, cruising down Fifth Avenue’s freshly-painted lavender line in a convertible, her mane of golden hair whipping in the breeze—none other than the star of this season’s biggest television hit, Dirty Sexy Money, the Grand Marshal of this year’s NYC Pride Parade, the transgender actress Candis Cayne. 

Oh, what a thirty-nine year journey it’s been—from the summer of ’69 when those intrepid Stonewall queens barricaded the bar doors against the police right through to the summer of 2008 when—how bitterly ironic—the police chose to raid and close the mega-club Pacha on the eve of the NYC Pride parties.  Proving yet again that some battles just go on and on—which is one reason why we march the lavender line each year on the last Sunday in June.

With more than 300 different organizations, 500,000 participants, and an estimated one million spectators cheering us onward, this year’s Pride Parade made history when, for the first time, the sitting governor of New York State marched with us—and that would be our LGBT ally, Governor David Paterson. Indeed, it was arguable that much of the day’s excitement was a consequence of Paterson’s directive that LGBT marriages from out-of-state be recognized by New York state agencies. 

Other Grand Marshals included Gilbert Baker, the designer of the rainbow flag, as well as Jeanne Manford, the found of PFLAG, and the entire LGBT Community Center, currently celebrating its 25th anniversary.  And marching behind Dykes on Bikes (and their male counterparts a few yards behind) was none other than Mayor Bloomberg, and later, there was Senator Chuck Schumer, and of course, our own openly lesbian City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn.

With such illustrious participants and the usual plethora of outrageous rainbow beauty, who wouldn’t be proud?  So spirited was the mood of the crowd that when a sudden thunderstorm stalled overhead, the parade became a huge mosh pit of swirling skirts, hair, and wigs as participants and spectators joined together in a massive rain dance.

Fortunately for some of us, there was also the Hades Music Loft Party on a rooftop overlooking lower Fifth Avenue—where the kids kiki’ed it out on runways in a massive penthouse loft as James Andersen and Michael Hades gave us the beats and over which Mother Juan Aviance presided with her all-inclusive hospitality. 

And when, near the parade’s end, the rain started again, Christopher Street became a block party of celebrants looking every bit as beautiful and hopeful as those who gathered together at Woodstock so many years before.  Let the revolution begin anew; let pride and freedom reign.

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