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
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
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.