On the one-year anniversary of the month gay marriage became a reality in New York State, the NYC Pride parade was louder — and prouder — than ever this afternoon.
Rainbow flags flooded the streets and flamboyant drag queens paraded in wigs and sparkly dresses to kick off the 43rd annual LGBT Pride March, which 1.5 million people were expected to attend.
Grand Marshals of the event included Grammy-award winning artist Cyndi Lauper, who performed last night on Pier 54, and Chris Sagardo, the openly gay president of Kiehl's, the beauty and skincare line. Phyllis Siegel and Connie Kopelov, the first same-sex couple to get married in the city following the passage of New York’s gay marriage law, also served as grand marshals for the event.
The past 12 months have seen some watershed moments in gay rights: In June 2011, the New York state Legislature voted to allow gay marriage in the state. One month later, in July, President Barack Obama announced the official repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" in the military.
And in May, Obama said he thinks gay couples should be able to marry.
The mood on the streets was indeed more festive this year, several paradegoers told Metro.
Darren Nimnicht, a 60-year-old Manhattanite, said he also noticed more stands in Pride Fest that catered to families and family issues, perhaps a nod to the burgeoning number of gay and lesbians raising children.
“You see more stands for health related things like child care,” Nimnicht said. “You also see more stands about adoption. So, I’d say each year Pride becomes more and more inclusive.”
Tom Cicero, Nimnicht’s partner of 37 years, said that New York’s gay marriage law affected not only the city but even places like upstate Hudson, New York.
“A couple years ago, there were four cars that lined the street for Pride in Hudson,” he said. “This year, cars lined the whole length of Warren Street. It’s a celebration because the law had a big effect on people who are being very positive.”
Detractors few and far between
Despite some attempts, nobody could put a damper on New York's gay community today, not even a man standing alone near West 12st Street, holding a sign that read, “Today, man marries man. Tomorrow, man marries giraffe.”
Several paradegoers got down on their floats to take pictures flipping him off or to cheer in his face.
“So be it,” Holly Trantham, a 20-year-old Manhattanite said. “If man marries a monkey tomorrow ... at least he’ll be happy.”
Miles Dixon/Kevin C. Downs/Metro