I’m very blessed to have a family and an amazing group of friends that love me no matter what, and I grew up in a school and an environment that was extremely accepting. But despite all of this, I still wasn’t very confident when I was a teenager, particularly in high school, when I first realized that I was gay.
It took me years to have confidence in myself. I was always too afraid to be bold or be different, and tried my best to blend in. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting that, but for me I did it out of self-consciousness and fear, rather than preference. It wasn’t until college that I really started to branch out more and become more bold and proud of myself.
After years of yearning to go, but always (inconveniently) being out of town on the day, I finally made it to the NYC Gay Pride parade. With three of my closest friends by my side, I strutted down the streets in a lace lingerie bodysuit, some very short shorts, and a pair of five-inch heels!
We started the day by taking the Long Island Railroad to Penn Station, then took the subway uptown to my friend’s studio to regroup before heading downtown for the parade, settling on the intersection of East 26th Street and 5th Avenue.
To say the parade was incredible is an understatement. Never in my life have I been surrounded by so much uninhibited hope, love, and happiness. In a world of so much hatred and discrimination, it was so beautiful to see people from all over come together to celebrate the LGBT+ community.
We stayed at the parade until 3:45, then took the subway to East Broadway to find a place nearby for a late lunch, since my friend Andrea (who came up from Maryland for pride) was taking a bus back to MD at 5. We settled on a small restaurant called ForgetMeNot. I’ll be totally honest, the food wasn’t that great, but the restaurant had a nice aesthetic so it wasn’t all bad.
For dessert Shannon stopped at one of her favorite pudding places downtown, and Marisa and I got ice cream at The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop!
We finished the day at The Gin Mill, a favorite of Shannon’s. We stayed for around an hour before Marisa and I decided it was time for us to go back to Penn to catch a train back to Long Island.
We navigated our way back to Penn Station via subway and took the LIRR back home, a peaceful end to an unforgettable day.
It’s incredible to think about how much progress has been made over the last few decades, but there’s still so much left to be done. Same-sex marriage is still illegal in the vast majority of the world, and in many places it’s punishable by death. If you can, learn about the history of the community in your country and around the world. Learn what sparked the movements and about different world legislations, and hope that over the years we’ll make things change for the better.
But above all, be bold, be loud, be uninhibited, love who you are, and don’t let anyone take away your pride.