Four years ago, marchers in New York City's Pride March--and revelers on the streets and in parties during and after the event--celebrated the legalization of same-sex marriage in the Empire State, which had come to pass only a few days earlier.
This year, there was similar jubilation because, just the other day, same-sex marriage was legalized in all of the United States. The cool wind that blew drizzle and rain into this city through much of the day didn't seem to keep very many people away from the march and other celebrations.
Something I saw after this year's march bears a striking similarity with something I observed four years ago. In most years, one sees LGBT people and their allies, alone or in groups, walking around with their rainbow flags and other regalia. One also sees couples, but many of them have a certain tentativeness that can be seen in the almost-truncated ways they hold hands, put their arms around each other or simply walk with each other. It's almost as if some of them know that they can display their affection so publicly for that one day.
But this year, I saw none of that furtiveness. The couples I saw--young old and in-between; men with men, women with women and cis people with transgenders--walked with more confidence and less of the ostentation people display when they know their moment of bliss can be rudely (or, worse, violently) interrupted. In other words, they seemed to enjoy the sense of security--Nobody can take this away from us--most cisgender heterosexual couples don't even realize they take for granted.
I was noticing change in couples' body language and, it seemed, in their sense of time itself, not on the Christopher Street Pier or in Chelsea clubs or Jackson Heights bars. Rather, I observed them in the South Bronx, where I rode my bike to meet a friend after the festivities. I also noticed it later in my own neighborhood of Astoria--which, while it has a fair-sized LGBT community living openly, isn't exactly Chelsea or even Jackson Heights. Somehow I imagine that had I gone to other neighborhoods in Queens or Manhattan or the Bronx--or Brooklyn, or even Staten Island--I would have seen something similar. In short, everyone was breathing a little freer today--even more so than we were four years ago.