CAMPOut:Fay's Rehoboth Journal
|by Fay Jacobs|
|As I Stood Frying...
It was 93 degrees out by noon, as we stood right up at the police barricade at Fifth Avenue and 22nd Street waiting for the front of the New York City Pride Parade to reach us.
In my sweaty hand was the 2005 Pride Guide, a glossy magazine listing events, the parade route, Pride organizers, judges and grand marshals, and a page headed Accolade. It described the awards ceremony, to be held in the fall, to honor those individuals and organizations who embody the diversity of pride throughout the year.
I stared at the page. Above the story, in italic typeface, was the quote "Pride parades were born of brave individuals having the courage to come out as gay in often hostile, unsafe environments." and it was attributed to Fay Jacobs, As I Lay Frying.
I couldn't believe my eyes. I had no idea who chose to put the quote there, when the decision was made, where they bought my book, or what prompted Pride organizers to use those particular words.
A friend of CAMP had e-mailed us the previous week, saying there was a quote of mine in the New York Pride Guide and I was pleased and curious. I couldn't imagine what kind of quote (Schnauzers, boating or lawnmowers didn't seem appropriate) but I figured it was probably a quote among many, although I couldn't figure out why.
But there were my words, all by themselves, heading the page, in the publication in the hands of thousands and thousands of people and on the window sills or stacked up, free for the taking, in hundreds of New York City bars and restaurants.
I was by parts astounded, honored, flattered, and incredulous. And proud, for I meant what I said and this was Pride 2005. It made me think about how far I had come over the decades, from confusion to fear, to a toe out of the closet, to building a life with wonderful friends and family, to Rehoboth and life as a writer, to a Canadian same-sex wedding and now to a sweltering New York street surrounded by thousands of people with their own complex coming out histories.
I showed the quote to Bonnie and her face lit up. "Cool!" she said.
But it was far from cool as sweat trickled down our necks, and the sun beat down, as we strained our eyes uptown to see if the parade was approaching.
And then we heard it. The thundering sound of motorcycle engines revving their way toward us. Ah, the dykes on bikes leading the parade! They were followed by the New York Police Department marching band, followed by a three hour parade of floats, dancers, music, placards, whistles, shouts and cheers. Along with the P-Flag marchers, floats from bars, churches, health organizations, gay sports teams, liquor companies, banks and more, there were lots of laughs and some somber moments. This year's parade theme: "Equal Rights, no more, no less" was never far from peoples' consciousness. And the true diversity of the New York community shone bright. Latino contingents (Ah, the costumes and good looking people from Brazil!), Harlem Pride floats, Asian groups (OUT, not take-out!) black, brown, white all together, it was a refreshing and joyous mix. Gay firefighters, police contingents, flight attendants (duh!), rugby teams, you name it. We loved D-Flag (women and their dogs), gay dads with a sign "We love our straight son," the naughty signs, and so much more.
One of the most touching groups (a few marching, a few riding) were some Stonewall Riot veterans, one with a sign "Class of '69." They got sustained cheers and thanks from the crowd.
And of course politics had its day. New York Mayor Bloomberg led the way, with prospective mayoral candidates battling for applause behind him. Al Sharpton shook hands, led by TV crews moonwalking backwards in front of him for film at 11. There was Senator Chuck Schumer, Congressman Jerry Nadler, and so many more. A huge whoop of joy and cheers went up for political superstar Hillary Clinton, clad in her ubiquitous black suit and waving to crowd shouts of "Sister Hillary!"
A contingent of VW bugs chugged by with the waving Fab 5 of Queer Eye, and walkers distributing "Honk if You're Queer" bumper stickers. The new gay cable network Logo (Call Comcast and say you want it!) had a float, as did the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and P-Flag with a float advertising their "Stay Close" campaignwith a huge photo of Chrissy Gephardt and her parents.
As bystanders right against the rail, we were handed dozens and dozens of stickers, hand-outs, postcards advertising events and a lifetime supply of condoms, which we passed back to some boys behind us.
Sharing elbow room with us at the front were two lesbians from Brooklyn, and it turned out that one of them had, until recently, worked at InsightOUT Bookclub, and knew of my book. It is such a small world.
By 3 p.m. we were parched, sweaty and risking third degree sunburn as the parade showed no signs of abating. We had a friend volunteering at a party in the building behind us, at the In The Life offices. If you are not familiar with the show, it's a terrific PBS gay news magazine and I'm a big fan. We took refuge at the air conditioned party, toasted Pride with a Mimosa and still had an awesome view of the parade from the In the Life office windows.
From there, as the parade chugged along, Bonnie and I fought our way through the throngs lining Fifth Avenue, down to 10th Street and across to Christopher Street to the food and souvenir vendors. The streets were packed as far as the queer eye could see.
We met friends at Julius', and in small world Part II, my cousin Kenn was there, with a group of his friends and we all had a reunion, burgers, and beer.
Then, after buying the requisite Pride T-shirt with the Keith Haring design on it and swigging our third large bottle of water we realized how far we had walked and how much further still we had to go to get back to our car on 25th Street. It seemed physically impossible.
"We'll never get a taxi down here," Bonnie whined as I spied a yellow cab with its vacancy light on. A mirage? But a group of young guys signaled the cab just as we saw it and it stopped to pick them up. The guys looked at us, we looked at the guys, and they must have taken pity on the two old sunburned lesbians clutching pride guides, staggering unsteadily and looking like Stonewall survivors. They insisted we take the cab. To those anonymous guys, we will forever be indebted.
And as we slowly pulled away from Christopher Street, I could see the streets still teeming with people, the gutters littered a foot deep in plastic water bottles and other garbage, and the corner trash can bursting with, among pizza boxes and coke cans, hundreds of discarded Pride Guides.
Fame is so fleeting. Happy Pride 2005.
Fay Jacobs can be reached at www.fayjacobs.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 8 July 1, 2005