Weekly: PRIDE — Big Apple, Big Love, Big Fun
June is Pride month. It’s also the start of summer, one of my favorite seasons (and not just because it’s my name). June means sun, sand, and that much-needed vacation for which you’ve been marking your calendar every day in anticipation. With the summer starting off nice and warm, what better way to spend it than by checking out all those Pride festivals you’ve always told yourself you’d go see! For the next six weeks (maybe more) I’ll be covering all of the must-visit Pride festivals around the world, and providing suggestions on how you can make the most out of each festival. My first Pride stop is New York City, which kicks off on June 23rd this year, and takes place in one of the weirdest and coolest cities I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.
Friday, June 23rd
Friday night is where the action starts, with this year’s featured performance being the “Men At Work Fantasy” at the Highline Ballroom. This event features (as you can imagine from the name) a bunch of attractive gay men dressed in the sexiest outfits you can handle, and they’re sure to be hot, if this year’s performances live up to past years’ reputations. NYC Pride invites you to dress your sexiest and start your Fantasy off right, with drinks and special (and potentially dirty) performances. And if you know where to look or who to ask, there are always a few secret acts going on the first night. In a 21-and-over environment, you’re sure to have an intense (but extremely pleasurable) time.
Saturday, June 24th
Saturday is either the chillest or most exciting day of this weekend, depending on how you choose to spend it. At scenic Hudson River Park at Pier 26 this year, Saturday’s events include live musical performances by your favorite Indie pop singers Tegan and Sara, British electronica group Years & Years, and a lot more inbetween!
Like most Pride festivals, booths will be set up all along the venue selling outfits, trinkets, “toys,” and even giving away lots of cool swag. If you’re like me and prefer live music at night, during the day you can explore the booths, enjoy the food, or wander the nearby city instead. Wherever you go you’re bound to find bars and restaurants with all sorts of special Pride deals and themed evenings, and clubs will often advertise “Pride nights” hosting primarily members of the LGBTQ community.
Whatever you make of it, Saturday is sure to be a full day, and you should bring water and spending money (and of course your significant other) for whatever you decide to do.
Sunday, June 25th
As many of you might already know, the Big Apple is where the modern civil rights movement got its start, and that history can be seen everywhere during this festival, from the special performances on Friday night to the famous March on Sunday. The March got its start in the 70’s with the civil rights movement and has continued ever since. So if you want history with a flair, NYC is where you’ll want to be at the end of the month.
The March is like any parade, with eye-catching floats and countless groups kicking off at 36th and 5th Avenue and ending at Christopher and Greenwich Streets. There’s music, dancing, free swag thrown from floats, and of course, dozens of people marching in memory of those of our community that have been lost to us over the years. It is a memorable and moving experience, one worth seeing for sure. The March commemorates the Stonewall Riots and all of the activists fighting for change and acceptance. It starts at noon every year, and it’s best to find a spot early as the streets fill up quickly.
For those who have never been to a Pride event at all or only have experience with small festivals, there are a couple things to keep in mind. New York City is a place with a lot of personality, and you can always expect that personality to be doubled during Pride weekend. There will be people in wild, elaborate costumes and rainbow capes everywhere. There will be people dressed in leather straps or wearing nothing but a loin cloth (as my 2016 Atlanta Pride experience revealed to me). Pride was started as a way for us in the LGBTQ community to have a safe environment to express ourselves and to be less afraid of being open about who we are, and the people at New York Pride have clearly embraced this with vigor.
I highly recommend NYC as your Pride destination if you enjoy thousands of people just like you, joining together to celebrate what we’re all seeking: unashamed love.
Originally published at TravelPRIDE.