This article was originally published for Straus News.
June 25, 2018
Toting rainbow flags and holding rainbow-spangled signs, they trickled into the Delancey Street/Essex Street station minutes before the train pulled in.
Once aboard, friends and strangers alike mingled with one another as the train moved uptown and more rainbow-clad parade-goers stepped on.
At the parade’s starting point at Seventh Avenue and 15th Street, the crowd was sectioned away from the road by barricades and people milled around, trying to squeeze as close to the front as possible. Several people had set up lawn chairs to comfortably watch the floats, but for some attending Pride for the first time, the pre-parade crowd was dizzying.
“It’s overwhelming,” 19-year-old Sacha Ruiz-Macheret said. “I don’t really know what to do because it’s my first time here, so I’m just, you know, kind of following the crowd, but it’s really cool.”
Despite near-delirium at the start of the parade, anticipation, too, was palpable. Ruiz-Macheret said she recently came out as bisexual and that she wanted to celebrate it at Pride.
“Here is where everyone can get together and just be themselves without having any fear of being judged by everybody else because you know, we’re all the same — kind of, in a way — and it’s just like this is where you can come to, I guess, not be afraid to be who you are,” Ruiz-Macheret said.
The parade began with rainbow confetti and several motorcyclists zipping through Seventh Avenue. Adults and children, some accompanied by dogs, marched past an animated crowd with various LGBTQ-friendly nonprofits and businesses.
Several prominent New York City political figures, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senator Chuck Schumer, marched with along with staff, drawing cheers – mostly – from onlookers. However, gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, who walked along the edge of the parade route, shaking hands with everyone on the front lines, was perhaps Sunday’s most popular politician.
Several businesses, Lyft and T-Mobile among them, had large floats featuring disc jockeys, dancing employees and drag queens. Groups of employees would run by the barricades, handing out whistles, flags and sunglasses.
For some attending the parade, like 21-year-old Jordan Gray, Pride meant being part of a community.
“I’ve been gay now for three years, and I want to experience this,” Gray said. “I usually try to go to work, so I took off work to come here.”
Ruiz-Macheret said the Pride parade was important to her because everyone should feel accepted regardless of sexuality or identity.
“I’ve never seen so many sexual beings just out here living their best lives, being who they are, and it’s great to see it,” she said. “I’m happy to be a part of it.”