On Sunday I went to the Pride parade in NYC, what has become a yearly tradition for me. It runs right down 5th avenue, so you can imagine what it does to traffic. Then again, that’s what parades do.
I went with a bunch of friends, and we always set up in the same spot, right in front of Madison Square Park (no, it’s not by the stadium. Madison Square Garden used to be by the park, but they moved a few times. It’s now above Penn Station). We got there early so that we could be in the front row. As usual, it’s worth it.
Besides showing support for my LGBT friends, it’s a fun parade, with beautiful costumes and a light-hearted atmosphere. Of course there were serious marchers, but considering how disempowered and at risk the community is right now, seriousness is important. Although I’m rather bored with the marching politicians. It’s both support and pandering, I know that it’s a requirement of the job, but I find it annoying. Still, I was impressed that Senator Schumer marched. He’s a busy man, but found the time. I don’t think anyone else in Congress did. I con neither confirm nor deny that I started a “Chuck” chant.
I love New York. I love the energy and diversity. I love that (and this is probably a surprise to most of you) how friendly everyone is. Only during rush hour do New Yorkers get the “rude” stereotype, especially against tourists that insist on stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to stare at the buildings. Not cool, people. Move off to the side, like the people that are looking at their phones. Think about others for once.
The swag that the marchers were giving out was different than previous year. It used to be that you’d get tons of condoms and lube (two things that everyone should have plenty of). This year it was almost all stickers and temp tattoos. I guess that the organizations are short on money. The best swag of the day was a whistle on a pendant key chain from TD Bank. I will put that whistle to use forever, and at the most annoying times. Because I’m an asshole.
Normally I don’t dance in public. But the parade was long and the music eventually got the better of me. I’m not a good dancer, and I’m self-conscious about that. But some songs get my butt wiggling.
But the parade isn’t about me. It’s not just to see the costumes and to share in the joy. It’s about support. Nothing shows support like representation, and being there is a start.
But don’t just be there. Be active. Find ways to help. Cultural minorities get overwhelmed and washed away by the cultural majority. Showing support (and not just at Pride, but other parades) shows that will not let that happen. Every culture is valid, but is a sandcastle always in danger of the tide. Right now the tide is high.
I think that this is something that the majority culture doesn’t understand. Being a melting pot is not a virtue of the country. It means that you give up your identity, everything that you, your parents, and your ancestors were becomes nothing (and the melting pot gets pissed if you don’t melt…yes, i know that i’m screwing up the metaphor). I see this in my own family, which now only gives lip service to our Jewish heritage and find ways to rationalize their capitulation. It’s Middle School on a national stage, the “In Culture” pressuring you to be like them and giving out metaphorical wedgies to those that don’t. I was beaten up throughout those years because I looked and acted different. It’s sad to see that nothing has changed.
Stand out. Take pride in who you are. Don’t let the tide wash away your sandcastle.