This year's annual Pride March down New York's Fifth Avenue will be extra special. On June 26, 2013, after a whopping 17 years of federal discrimination, LGBT couples were finally recognized as having equal protection under the United States Constitution.
As a result, this will likely be the most significant Pride March since the very first was held on June 28, 1970. Almost 43 years ago to the day of the Supreme Court ruling making the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, the very first Pride March made its way through New York to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of the prior year and show the city -- and the rest of the country -- that the LGBT community would not suffer police brutality, discrimination and second-class treatment.
Since 1970, the Pride March has worked its way into the fabric of New York City and inspired countless other such demonstrations across the United States and elsewhere in the world. It's evolved from being organized in a downtown apartment by people who were mindful of concerns for the marchers' safety into a flashy event backed by numerous public, private, and corporate sponsors and protected by the NYPD.
My feelings toward the Pride March have been mixed since I attended my first one eight years ago. At first, I was excited by the barely clad men and women who walked the path and danced on the floats. The atmosphere was festive, fun and free. But it was years before I learned that the March commemorates the Stonewall Riots, the response to a police raid on a gay bar that led to the gay rights movement. The Adonises and bared-boob women never told me that. Over the years, I began to wonder how a guy or girl wearing little else but tight underwear and angel wings promotes a sense of history or equality. It seemed to me that such demonstrations only promote the oversexualization of a community that already seems too obsessed with sex and promiscuity.
But in the wake of the Supreme Court's historic ruling, I'm beginning to change my attitude. This ruling is an affirmation that all people are free and equal under the Constitution of the United States of America. Thus, in the eyes of the law the gyrating boy-angel is no different from the couple holding hands and wearing wedding bands. Each person has the same right to express him or herself however he or she feels, and represents a part of a large and very diverse community.
Moreover, during this LGBT Pride Month and Pride March, all Americans have something to be proud of. In the past 50 years, this country has come a long way in eliminating inequality for all peoples, LGBT, black, women, etc. Of course we're by no means done and have an equally long if not longer way to go still -- it's a sad fact that many will continue to try to harken us back to backward, repressive attitudes -- but this year we can be proud of the strides we're making and feel confident that our determination and hard work can make for a brighter future.
Get your wings ready and cue the music!
Follow Daniel Davidson's blog, Pulse of My Nation.