All around the world, leaders are closing down large mass gatherings to protect their citizens. That, unfortunately, means Pride parades are shutting down. GayTimes has reported on Instagram that Brighton Pride and Pride in London are canceled, and Forbes states that over 120 pride events or parades have been canceled and moved online. When I discovered that New York City Pride was canceled on a preliminary Twitter trending check, I was shocked. I knew it would happen, for the concerns over this virus and the sheer death toll is insane. I knew the best thing would be to cancel Pride, and the likelihood of there being a parade was slim.
Yet, New York City Pride was something I always looked to. When I first got inklings that I was gay, I used to look up photos and videos of people at Pride. I used to imagine taking a train (all by myself) from New Jersey to New York and being swallowed up by all the rainbow flagged people around me. Being closeted, as every LGBT+ person knows, is one of the most uncomfortable experiences in your life where you watch what you say to the very people who you should be open around. To combat this feeling of isolation, I would fervently scour the hashtags of Instagram and Twitter for pride, pride edits, or gay character edits from TV shows or movies. I would hear proud music, voice-overs of people accepting and loving me, and see people who were like me being open and free.
After the messy business of coming out to my mom, my sister, my mother and I went to New York City Pride. It was 2017, I had come out to my friends, to my sister and mother, and to the Internet with my first article on Affinity Magazine that effectively was read by my whole high school. When I got to New York, and I was behind the metal gates watching the floats go by, everything came full circle. People ran past me wearing transgender flags, non-binary flags, lesbian flags, bisexual flags, pansexual flags, and rainbow flags.
I was able to walk down the streets of New York, the same streets that I saw on my computer years before, as my true self. And ever since 2017, I have made an effort to go to each New York Pride since. That feeling of the sheer joy of seeing my community around me, of me being myself, and of me going with the ones I love makes every New York Pride so dear to me. New York Pride was a place where I connected with love interests, particularly last year when I went to the parade with my partner.
So, New York Pride has a special place in my heart. It’s something I’ve looked at during my time of coming to myself, and something that I’ve spent beautiful moments with loved ones. I respect the decision to not have Pride for the safety of everyone during this time, but I still am grieving the cancellation of an event that has fundamentally helped me grow and love as a person.
Photo: Francesco Ungaro via Pexels