So much talent and passion: that’s what marks
the NYC Pride Rally, the official kick-off to NYC Pride Week.
Even in the middle of a drizzly
Manhattan Saturday afternoon, what becomes increasingly
remarkable about the cavalcade of talent, speakers, and
performers parading across the stage at Bryant Park is how
incredibly gifted we are as a community.
Forty years ago, in 1969, the Rally was born
one month after the Stonewall riots when more than 500 people
gathered together in Washington
Square Park in the name of “Gay Power.” And as this year’s
speakers took the microphone and spoke in the name of love and
equality, it was apparent that a groundswell of activism is upon
us again. Oscar-winning screenwriter (for MILK), Dustin
Lance Black, spoke about his own difficulties in growing up gay
in a Mormon family and addressed the history of hatred and
intolerance that has been foisted upon the LGBT community in the
name of religion. Impassioned and eloquent, Black’s speech was
a call to arms for all LGBT people to join with our straight
allies to come together as one, in the tradition of all great
civil rights struggles.
Equally forceful were the words of lifelong
activist and NAMES Quilt founder Cleve Jones who addressed a
cheering audience and made them all promise to join him in
October for the March on the Mall in
And then there was Marga— That would be Ms.
Marga Gomez, the brilliant Latina lesbian comic who was the
afternoon’s co-emcee (with Michael Serrato of The Big Gay
Sketch Show) and who persisted in utilizing her sly,
incisive humor to remind us that the only way to survive in a
world that wishes to smite us for whom we love is to laugh—in
Love and laughter, those were the prevailing messages of the
afternoon, with a heartfelt rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” sung by the charismatic and
harmonic duo, Jason & deMarco, and an incendiary and sensitive
set by the stunning hip-hop artist, Melange Lavonne. And though
the rain commenced anew, by the afternoon’s end, there was
little question that the Rally had once again bound us together
in the name of love and the pursuit of equality.