Heritage of Pride March, New York City, June 28th, 2009
by E. Joyce Glasgow -
SGN A&E Writer
I love the Gay Pride Parade in New York because so many organizations are involved and participants wear such wonderful, sumptuous and sometimes wacky costumes and everyone is smiling and having such a good time. In the past several years of seeing the parade, I've witnessed dykes on bikes and dykes on bicycles in huge numbers, bears, cross-dressers, well-toned men in their underwear dancing on floats, PFLAG, a marching 80-year-old Boy Scout leader from Connecticut (whom I met on the commuter train on the way to the parade last year) who was kicked out of the Boy Scouts for being Gay, university students from all around the New York metropolitan area, same-sex couples who have been together for years - including one male couple who were celebrating over 50 years as partners - adoption groups, LGBT healthcare groups, children of Gays and Lesbians, LGBT teens, Google employees, a Peruvian float, a Stonewall float, church floats, gospel singers, outrageous drag queens, Macy's employees, Jewish groups, foster parents, Buddhists, Quakers, Lambda Legal, the New York Police marching band, the New York Fire Department and numerous individuals, all bringing cheer and pride to the throngs of enthusiastic spectators lined up down Fifth Avenue and into Greenwich Village. The Governor of New York has showed his support by marching, as have other high profile elected officials.
This year was the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York. The anniversary theme was represented throughout the parade, as were musical tributes on floats to the late Michael Jackson, who died just three days before the parade.
While in New York, I saw a play which illuminates some political and social Gay history-making taking place during a difficult and obscure era. Jon Marans' The Temperamentals, code word among Gays in the 1950s for homosexuals, is about the founding of the Mattachine Society, the first Gay rights organization in the United States, pre-Stonewall, by the communist Harry Hay (who would go on later in life to be the founder of the Radical Fairies) and Viennese refugee Rudi Genreich, Hay's lover and soon-to-become an internationally lauded fashion designer. It takes place in 1950-53, during a time of extreme closetedness and entrapment of Gays by law enforcement agents.
Even though that was long ago and the world has come a long way, shockingly, innocent Gays are still being entrapped into "false arrests" by the police in New York in 2009.
For more information about The Temperamentals, visit: www.thetemperamentals.com. The play has been extended through August 23, with a fine cast, including Michael Urie of Ugly Betty as Rudi Genreich as designer. For more information about Gay Pride in New York visit: www.nycpride.org.
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