Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The parade of parades

I shouted and clapped. I grinned and laughed. Sometimes I cried. It was the greatest parade ever!

As I noted in the previous posting this was the fortieth anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. I decided to watch Sunday’s parade from the sidelines instead of marching, because I wanted to see as much of it as I could--not really all of it as things turned out. At my vantage point on Fifth Avenue and 21st Street the marchers came by a little before 1 PM. After standing almost three hours I thought that I had taken in most of it and went out for a snack and a rest in Union Square. When I returned the event was far from over. It still wasn’t when I finally threw in the towel at 6:15.

It was an endless sea of humanity. As might be expected, the politicians came out too. I didn’t see Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg, both of whom I esteem highly, but Senator Chuck Schumer and Rep. Anthony of Weiner (whom I am less keen on) were working the crowd. More important in the long run, I think, are the numerous chapters of PFLAG, consisting of more humble heterosexuals (for the most part)--the sort of friends whose numbers will make the crucial difference.

Overall, the keynote of the parade--or march as some prefer to call it--was unity within diversity. As regards diversity there were simply more groups than before, more varied in their composition. Generally colorful and exciting were the various ethnic and national groups. The South Asians, for example, featured the current effort to decriminalize sodomy in India. Gay rights is a global, and not just American task.

Unity was implicit in the absence of stridency and intergroup contention. Most of the far-left groups, given to fighting among themselves as much as with the rest of us, had dwindled; some seemed gone altogether. AIDS had a proper emphasis, but did not overwhelm as it had (for good reason) in previous years. For their part, the drag queens, most of them, ceased to be in-your-face, and emphasized their joyousness and creativity. I particularly appreciated a gorgeous troop called “Gold Diggers of 2009.”

I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.



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