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NYC Pride Rally 2009
Bryant Park, Manhattan, New York City
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
June 20, 2009   photo-album Bookmark and Share

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 Washington. 

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 its face.

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.

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