On Sunday, June 30th, 2019 I had the honor of walking in the World Pride March in NYC with the International Rescue Committee. Being someone that identifies as bi-sexual, walking in the parade is something I always dreamed of doing but never actually thought I would have the opportunity to do.
With this year being the 50th anniversary of Stonewall as well as NYC hosting the World Pride March, I knew I was definitely going to take the time off to go and witness this historic event. I wanted to be surrounded by love and support and good vibes for the day. Shortly after I made the decision to attend, my fiance Josh called and told me that his work (IRC) was looking into getting a spot in the march and was interested in volunteers to walk with them. Of course I was overwhelmed with excitement and joy and told him to sign us up! I couldn’t believe it, not only was I going to witness this magical event but now I was going to be a part of it too! Talk about major bucket list item right there!
The days leading up to the event, I couldn’t stop talking about it as well as planning and making purchases (like the beautiful rainbow parasol I spent most of the march spinning and hypnotizing people with lol). Since it was a last minute decision, the IRC would be using the shirts they already had for the event.. which of course I decided needed glitter. I mean, who doesn’t want to be sparkly when walking in a Pride March?! It should be a requirement! I also decided to make good use of some of the stickers that we had and made my own phone case design, since chances were that I would have it in my hand most of the time so why not have a little extra promo. After a quick trip to Michaels, I was well stocked with supplies and ideas to help make things fantastic. My wrists on the other hand (no pun intended) were not prepared for the amount of work that was going to be put into my creations and I paid the price for the next couple days.. but that would be the least of my pain worries. Stay tuned for more on that later. .
After 2 nights of crafting, I was pleased with my last minute creations. And yes, I’ve already started planning ideas for next year’s march lol. Also, huge shoutout to Converse for having a line of Pride inspired shoes! The ones I really wanted (the white or black with the rainbow lightning bolts on them) were sold out at the time but these beauties were available and I have received many compliments on them. With my newly glittered/sparklfied IRC shirt, paired with a sparkly silver skirt, Pride Converse, rainbow parasol and bi-sexual Pride flag as a cape, I was feeling good, looking fantastic and ready to rock the day! Bring on all the love and good vibes!!!
Note: the following paragraph is going to be a bit of a Debbie Downer but I wanted to include it as it was a large part of the day.. Being that the IRC was a late addition to the march list, we would be getting a slot later in the evening. We were asked to be at the Step Off location at 5pm to prepare (with a roughly 6pm start). Arriving and seeing soo many people happy and colorful and full of Pride was overwhelming in the best way possible and I was honored to be a part of it. Once we found Orwin (Josh’s boss and my new favorite) we all congregated as a group to where we were assigned to wait until we were placed in queue. While waiting, I got to meet tons of amazing IRC reps and their friends/families. We all shared smiles, glitter and excitement. Eventually, we were placed into our queue and lead over to our waiting area, where we would be standing until it was our section’s turn to join the actual march. Little did we know, the rumor/joke of them being 4 hours behind schedule was in fact not a rumor or a joke. Slowly (and painfully), time moved forward but we did not. There were little to no official march coordinators around so eventually I took it upon myself to take charge and find people who were in charge to get updated info on what was going on, not just for my group but for those around us (shoutout to or “neighbors” of the American Red Cross, Chipotle and Shake Shack who we spent many hours having our own little block party with while we waited, as well as some love to Just Salad for having the best shirts ever). While it became very difficult not to get annoyed or angry about the delay, I did my best to keep smiling and keep getting as many updates and information as I could throughout our wait. Volunteer/Lead Harry, if you’re out there, I wish we exchanged info because you were amazing and we would totally be BFFS. I eventually began helping the march leaders in keeping the peace and condensing the lines whenever possible to help make it feel like we were moving a little at least. Long story short: there were more floats than planned for so that caused the initial delay, then impatient people started line cutting and pushing their way in because they didn’t want to wait their turns and eventually got everything super behind schedule. During this time, many of our group (as well as others) got tired of standing around and departed. Luckily, some of our group didn’t go far and re-joined us later in the evening.
FINALLY, at around 9pm, it was our turn to Step Off and join the march. The excitement was real. I couldn’t believe it, we were actually walking in the World Pride Parade in NYC. What was even more surprising was that even at this late hour, there were still a LOT of people standing along the parade route, cheering on the marchers. There were many people cheering and applauding and taking photos. Countless wishes of “Happy Pride” being sent our direction, many people thanking us for showing love for refugees (some even near tears over seeing the support). To be honest, it felt like an amazing high that is almost explainable. Soo much adrenaline and happy chemicals floating through your body, unable to stop yourself from smiling. It was an unreal experience. And yes, I may have cried a few times while walking. This was a very special moment.
Once more from our original group re-joined us, I decided there were enough people to hold the banner that I wanted to bust out the parasol and give it a twirl, as it was a beautiful rainbow and was a fun pop of color in the dark night. I’d also like to take a moment to thank Adore Me for having a fantastic float, with tunes provided by the glamorous GiGi Gorgeous, which helped to keep us in good spirits during the march. Normally, doing something to draw attention to myself and kind of “lead the pack” would not be something I would even consider doing.. but this was Pride. It was not a day to be ashamed of who you are, no matter your gender, sexual preference, race, size, background or anything else. That being said, I pushed aside all my fears and worries and just focused on the moment and the love. I would not be afraid of anything, not today. It was a day to feel FREE and LOVED for who you are. I wish every day could be like this but sadly, there is still a lot of hate in the world. All we can do is use our voices for good and spread love to those that need it most in hopes that someday things will change.
As we rounded the corner of the last leg of the march, everything started to set in: the fact that I hadn’t eaten anything since Noon, been on my feet since 4:30pm, there are numerous blisters on my feet and one on my hand (from twirling the parasol), I’m exhausted, etc.. Cue my body and my brain clashing together with a sense of “oh shit, I think we’re going to die” and making those final blocks feel like Hell. It became an effort to take every single step. All I wanted to do was collapse on the ground and not move for a very long time. When we finally finished, the walk to the subway was a very slow and painful one for me. All of the adrenaline was long gone and replaced by pains. As I walked down the steps of the subway station, my left knee (which I normally don’t have any issues with) gave out on me twice, to which I was very grateful to have Josh nearby to help me down the stairs so I didn’t fall. The 2 minute wait for the train to arrive felt like an eternity. Of course, there were no seats available (thank you dude that decided to manspread and take up multiple seats and not allow anyone to sit next to you) so standing and not falling over became a focus and a challenge. Once we got to Time Square to transfer, my body was in overload. I had labored breathing and felt like I was going to overheat and pass out, even though it was not that warm out. I had to get out of the subway and up into the night air. Thankfully, there was a CVS across from the stop so we went inside and grabbed some ice packs, orange juice, soda and water with hopes that one (or all) of those things would help me feel better. I was starting to get a panic attack, as I could not control how I felt or what my body was doing. There was no way I could get back on the subway so we grabbed a cab over to Grand Central, the whole time keeping my eyes closed and focusing on my breathing. We arrived with just 3 minutes to spare before our train was leaving and somehow I found the willpower to speed walk my way onto the awaiting train so that we didn’t have to wait another 20 minutes for the next one. Let me tell you this.. that train ride was the most painful and frightening thing I have ever felt in my life. While I knew I had to try to get some orange juice in my system, every little sip made me feel nauseous. Even with the help of ice packs, I could not get my body temperature down. I was still having labored breathing, felt dizzy, etc.. basically my body had gone into shock. The whole ride back to Tarrytown was spent with my eyes closed, focusing on my breathing and at every stop wishing the next one would be mine. Once we finally got to the station and into the car, we immediately blasted the air conditioning and I put the seat back to lay down . I was finally starting to feel a little better but still felt a mess. Once we got home, we went straight to the bedroom and made sure the fans and air conditioning were on full blast as well. Once relaxed, it was time to assess the feet.. I never knew you could get 4 blisters on one pinky toe before. I will spare you the gory details but will say that there were numerous blisters and pains suffered from this day (rest in peace, little left pinky toenail).
A week later, Josh and I were finally feeling back to proper health again, after countless bandages, KT tape, ointments and rest. And if you asked me if I would do it all over again, even knowing the terror I would put my body through? The answer will always be yes. Nothing can compare to the feeling of walking in the World Pride March, knowing you’re representing those that may not be able to march for various reasons as well as your friends and family and in my case, myself. I will never tell my heart no when it loves someone. I will continue to see beauty in all, and share that beauty with those who might not see it. I will continue to be non-judgemental and understanding to those around me. I will always stand up for others who are being wronged for reasons they cannot control. I will do my best to answer questions and help others understand and try to help dissipate hate. I am here for you. Whether you need a hug or someone to talk to or just need to know that someone cares. I will always have love to give. Whenever you think no one understands and you are alone, remember this: You are loved.