Pride 2006: Cool, Wet, Wonderful
It was, in a word, glorious. This, despite that Pride Sunday dawned to blackened skies. I was awakened not by the sound of real thunder, but by the fake computer thunder that the Weather Bug on my laptop makes to alert me that a thunderstorm is imminent. But the threat of a little rain didn't stop 500,000 of my closest friends from attending the 37th annual NYC Pride Parade. In fact, with the temperature a delicious 73 degrees and the overcast skies, I don't think you could have asked Mommie Nature for a more comfortable setting.
The highlight of the parade was the triumphant return of Kevin Aviance, who rode upon a giant paper-mache' elephant, on the HX Magazine float. (pic via CNN.com) And of course, policitians dare not risk shunning Pride, rain or no rain. Seen in the parade were Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker (and out lesbian) Christine Quinn, New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary 2008 Clinton, and candidates running for Attorney General in 2006, including Mark Green, Andrew Cuomo, Jeanine Pirro (who marched with the Ugh Cabin Republicans), openly gay AG candidate Sean Patrick Maloney, and Eliot Spitzer, whom the Empire State Pride Agenda has endorsed in the governor's race.
The 20th Annual Pier Dance was its usual maddening/joyous science project of traffic barricades, armies of volunteers, and bemused police officers. You have to hand it to Heritage Of Pride for managing the logistics of safely moving thousands and thousands of partiers from the ticketing area across the humming West Side Highway to the pier. And special thanks go out to the legions of volunteers for making the event possible at all. DJ Susan Morabito delivered a crowd pleasing mix of current hits and disco classics, including her signature record, Pet Shop Boys' Left To My Own Devices. Old fogies like me also recognized Amant's piano and string-laden If There's Love (Marlin Records 1978, free download), Kat Mandu's anthemic cowbell roof-raiser The Break (TK Records, 1979, free download), and Carl Bean's groundbreaking gay pride classic, I Was Born This Way (Motown Records, 1977, free download).
At 10pm, one of my favorite orchestral disco classics, the Salsoul Orchestra's 1979 hit Magic Bird Of Fire (which I blogged about here) heralded the arrival of the entertainment. Or not, as the stage remained dark and the record played a second time. Finally, as had been rumored, Jennifer Lopez took the stage at about 10pm, declaring, "Yes, it's really me! Last time I checked I was not an impersonator!", before launching into Jenny From The Block, Waiting For Tonight, and My Love Don't Cost A Thing. I'll admit that although I'm not a J.Lo fan, (despite watching Selena anytime it's on cable), I thought she sounded great.
The day closed with with some of my dearest friends gathered around me at the far end of the pier. Behind us, the Empire State Building stretched through the mist, bathed in lavender lights in honor of the day. To the accompaniment of John Paul Young's Love Is In The Air, (Ariola Records 1977, free download) the fireworks began and we turned to face the Hudson, arms around each other, our faces illuminated by the rockets in the sky and the love we have for each other. Two young boys near us broke into a joyously unrestrained swing dance and I leaned over to the Farmboyz and said, "They are going to remember this moment for the rest of their lives." I know I will.
And I don't know if you're an illusion
Don't know if I see it true
But you're something that I must believe in
And you're there when I reach out for you
- Love Is In The Air