Article: Khari Walser
It was the Stonewall Riot of 1969 in New York that set the LGBT movement in motion. This is a huge reason why the lives of LGBT people are celebrated around the world. In the midst of a community and country mourning the loss of 49 souls in Orlando, Florida, there is something to be said when the LGBTQ community continues to show its strength, celebrate their lives, and perform acts of protest against hate, bigotry, and ignorance. The New York City pride parade is a demonstration of all of those things. Like the many pride parades around the world this event is more than just dancing, bright colors, and loud music. It is a declaration of the LGBTQ’s presence in the world and its unwavering resilience in times of triumph and loss.
After the events in Orlando, for many people the idea of going to an event like a pride parade, where they are fully exposed, was terrifying. However, the trick is to not give in to that fear because it is fear that cripples us and can keep us from moving forward and growing. I was one of those people who felt that fear but realized that channeling that fear into strength and exercising solidarity was the best way to fight back. The shooting in Orlando made this event even more important to attend because it showed that the LGBTQ community could never be broken. There is still love and compassion in the world and freedom can be found within that.
The parade is preceded by many events like a family movie night and a rally that has performances by famous headliners. This year it was the winner of Rupaul’s Drag Race, Bob the Drag Queen, and pop duo Karmin. Speakers at the rally included a transgender woman living with AIDS and the owner and entertainment director of Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. These speakers exhibit the kind of diversity that lies within the LGBTQ community and its allies. LGBT people are fighting causes like battling gun violence, homophobia, and transphobia, but also continuing to celebrate victories like marriage equality, which became a reality in June of last year. What matters most in the LGBT community is what is reflected in the floats and organizations that march in the parade.
This day is also a chance for people to break out of their shells and embrace their bodies, their sexuality, or any other insecurities they may have in their lives. All of these events provide safe spaces where no judgement is passed. If a man chooses to wear make up and heels he can, if a little boy decides he wants to wear pink nail polish and a tutu he can, if anything he is celebrated for it. Bob the Drag Queen says that simply existing in the world as an LGBT person and going through your everyday life and celebrating it is activism because you are showing that you are present and proud. There is truth in that.
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