A fine mist of rain covered the Pride Parade but the sun was shining in the hearts of thousands of spectators and participants.
Nothing could put a damper on the exuberant mood of those gathered to march down Fifth Avenue Sunday following the Supreme Court’s groundbreaking decision Friday legalizing same-sex marriage across the country.
“Everything’s rainbows, so it brightens things up.” laughed Lanie Jae, 21, from Long Island, referring to the bright colors seen on everything from flags to false eyelashes at the parade — the colors that have come to symbolize the LGBT community.
Jae came to watch the parade with Nick Clark, 22, for whom the Supreme Court’s decision has personal meaning.
“Three quarters of my family is actually gay, so this is a big day for them,” Clark said, “One of my uncles is looking to get married here soon, so I’m excited for that.”
Clark said his favorite part of Pride was seeing so many people gather to celebrate a common cause. Organizers said it was the largest Pride parade in history.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and many other politicians marched in the parade, along with groups ranging from the New York City Gay Basketball League to the Stonewall Chorale, the nation’s first LGBT chorus.
Governor Andrew Cuomo kicked off the parade by officiating the marriage of David Contreras Turley and Peter Thiede in front of the Stonewall Inn.
Still, many spectators were mindful of the challenges still facing LGBT Americans.
“I know it’s going to be hard, even though it’s legal. People still are going to go out of their way to prevent people of the same sex from getting married, “ said Smangiee Shepherd, 24, from Washington Heights. “This is a big step, but the next step I guess is just staying safe when you get married.”
Others at the parade see workplace discrimination as the next big issue.
“A lot of people who work in certain areas of expertise are afraid to be openly gay,” said Ebonie Routh, 20, from West Haven, Connecticut. “The next step is coming into the workplace and being able to say, “I’m gay and that doesn’t have anything to do with the way I work.””
The parade was not without some detractors. A group of Hasidic Jews protested against same-sex marriage, and another group holding signed with Bible quotes stood behind the crowds. One protester, Jenny K, a 32-year-old from New Jersey who declined to give her last name, was handing out religious pamphlets that were largely going unnoticed.
“We come here to speak against sin,” she said, impervious to the boos and angry gestures directed towards her by the parade watchers.
But many religious groups including Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families and Friends, Broadway United Church of Christ and Madison Ave Baptist Church, joined the parade to show support for same-sex marriage and the LGBT community.
Later in the afternoon, a break in the clouds stopped the rain and brought out some welcome sunlight. The parade continued south towards Greenwich Village, finishing on Christopher Street. NYC Pride hosted a dance at Hudson River Park.
For Routh, the Pride Parade and the legalization of same-sex marriage meant a new beginning for LGBT people.
“There are people who are ready to be themselves now,” she said.