It was a hot, mid nineties, Saturday in Brooklyn, people excitingly wandering the streets at 4:00pm, the smell of garbage rising in heat, and a gathering off in the distance. Wandering down 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, large trucks blaring 80’s party music aligned both sides of the streets, policeman stood by gates, and seemed to be positioning to block off the street. One policeman plainly informed there would be a parade tonight, so I kept walking further down the sidewalk. The sidewalks continued to line up with organizational floats, motorcycles, men playing bag pipes, and rainbow paraphernalia. Crowds multiplied and condensed, my mind trying to piece together the parade’s rhetoric, but a my confidence grew that I would experience Brookyln.
Navigating through the crowd became more challenging, so I decided to stand by a tree before the parade set into motion down 5th Avenue. Waving rainbow hanging outside of shops or in the hands of crowd members being the most consistent theme of my walk. Most of the people holding hands were of the same sex, a teenager across the street with a “God Hates Fags” sign, only to to be drowned out by the cheers of a lively, open, and affectionate crowd. Standing by that tree, I realized I was at the Brooklyn Pride Parade, instantly becoming fascinated by the large amount of surrounding older couples, feeling tight in the chest, a bit emotional, understanding how many people have had to live their lives not being who they are.
A woman, roughly 5’2, dressed in gold and pink robes, with a black and gold mask mysteriously hiding her face appeared next to me. I’m not sure what made her stop to talk me out of a parade that had accumulated 1,000’s, but I liked this character.
Taking off her mask, she revealed to be a pretty Middle Eastern girl, she looked up, we introduced ourselves, and asked, “Are you enjoying Brookyln Pride?”
I answered, “Yeah, I’m not from around here, I’m straight, but I’m excited to see my first Pride Parade in Brooklyn. I know gay people know how to have a better time than anyone else. Wish I had more gay friends.”
Feeling a bit guilty about having to fire off my sexuality, she laughed, and replied, ” I know your straight, that’s awesome you came out. Here’s my number, if you want to go to the wildest party of your entire life, come to my girlfriends next Saturday.”
Taking down her number, she wished me a happy pride, putting on her mask, and in gypsy fashion, disappeared into the crowd never to be seen again.
Brookyln Pride took off, crowds roared as children’s scout troops marched down the streets. Followed by cheerleaders doing flips, cart wheels, and repeated down their routines down 5th. Lesbian motorcycle gangs with passengers holding the flags, one float playing the A-Teens, and platoons of musclar, transgendered, black men. Community figures making their presence transparent to all citizens of Brooklyn. Three hours worth of organizations floated, danced, and beckoned the loving chants of the crowd into the sunset.
As nightfall set in, the Major of Brooklyn requested everyone march, and the crowd took to the street. Walking down the middle of the road, streetlights rotating colors reflecting on all of us, Pride took a new message to me. It wasn’t just about gay rights, it was about loving yourself, and providing communities where anyone can be who they are. There was only exclusion for hate, as I marched with all these strangers, the unifying feeling from these people made it evident hate didn’t have a place among us. I don’t remember what I chanted, to be in a artistic, American, landmark like Brooklyn, and march in a unifying Pride Parade was a proud moment in my life. We hit the slope of 5th Avenues hill and the crowd dispersed into their separate paths of Saturday night.
Waking up in my Manhattan apartment, twitter informed me of the shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando. Stories trending of how cellphones vibrated in the pocket of victims dead bodies as forensic teams tried to do their jobs. I layed in my bed, exhausted by the thought that I felt a human generated, unifying, happiness the night before, only to wake up to discouragement today. It almost felt personal, I knew no one there last night, those victims in Florida were celebrating Pride, but it reinforced why the message of Pride is so important. Marching with an accepting, loving crowd, understanding your self, empowering your community, as discouraging the days of terrorists attacks are, a unifying pride can overpower a blind hate. Keep marching.