Ben Salom on the NYC Pride Parade

New York, N.Y. I’ve attended the LGBT parade many times in my life as a spectator, but this year marks the first time I’ve had the privilege to march in the parade. The Pride Parade is a time of jubilation and celebration, but this year’s Parade had extra weight in the face of the unimaginable atrocity of the Orlando shootings two weeks prior. This tragedy put the parade into perspective, and reminded us why there needs to be Pride. For most of history, and still today in many corners of the world, the LGBT people still live in fear for simply being themselves.

The major flashpoint of the LGBT rights in the United States was the Stonewall Riots. LGBT people faced extreme social, economic, and legal marginalization, and the Stonewall Inn, and gay bars like it, were the only refuge they had to congregate and socialize openly in the freedom to be themselves. During a routine police raid on June 28th, 1969, the patrons decided enough was enough, and fought back against the assembled police force. This spurred the birth of the modern LGBT Rights movement and from then on, the last Saturday in June has been the Pride Parade in New York City and many other cities across the world.

Being part of the parade was an eye-opening experience. I’ve never marched in a parade, and never knew how the logistics of hundreds of individual groups and floats and synchronized motorcycle phalanxes manage to slot themselves into the parade lines in such an orderly manner. I learned that to do it “orderly” is probably impossible, but the Pride Parade event organizers were very talented and dedicated people who worked hard to direct everyone to their assigned waiting location, and called when it was each group’s turn to begin the march down to Christopher Street.

The clipboard-wielding organizers weren’t sure whether we were meant to stand in front of the bathroom-inclusivity van, or the gaggle of women wearing glitter and pasties. The whole preliminary phase of the march was a sort of controlled chaos, which likely lies at the heart of any successful public event.

I am grateful that I was able to march under the banner of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation. Our main goal at The J. Luce Foundation is about “goodness,” and to march in Pride for showing your support, regardless of how you personally identify yourself, is to support the struggle for acceptance, goodness and love in the world.

Ben Salom
I am a communication, social media, and public relations intern at the James Jay Dudley Luce foundation. I am a Communication & Media Studies student at Goucher College.

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