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NY Pride - Parades and Police in New York

by Gert Hekma in Nightlife & Reports , 18 september 2005


New York has got more than one gay parade per year nowadays. It starts in the first weekends of June with the parades in the suburbs Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn. Then there was the first transgender parade on Friday this year, Saturday saw the “Dyke Parade” and then there’s the big New York Gay Parade on Sunday. The first three are rather smallish affairs of a couple of hundred people each. But their future looks bright as more and more gays and lesbians flee the Village and Chelsea to cheaper areas such as Astoria, Williamsburg and Brooklyn.

At the transgender parade (all people who don’t just identify as being male of female) there was an excited and rebellious atmosphere because the speakers said the police were handling these people too roughly.



There was a lot of security however, 100 police officers for every 1000 demonstrators. The parade consisted of a diverse ethnic group: a lot of boyish women, a group of girlish men and a couple of transsexuals. The few drag queens looked as if they were from the Stone Age of gay emancipation.



The dyke parade used to be for real women only, gay men and transgenders were not welcome. Nowadays they are “inclusive” and everyone can join. So there were a lot of transgenders accompanying the 5000 dykes this year, along with maybe two dozen queens.



When I checked out Christopher Street on Sunday morning it was the huge number of police - in uniform or casual clothes - that lined the empty streets. The parade transforms the city into a police state. Large parts of the public space are being closed off for gays, parade, market or parties. Ignoring these rules and prohibitions could get you in serious trouble as I saw with others and experienced myself.

The Parade started with the famous “Dykes on Bikes” and their male counterparts. After that a huge stream of police officers with their own band, fire fighters, and a lot of city and state officials. Mayor Bloomberg, senators plus all kinds of elected or eligible politicians follow after that. Hillary Clinton was the most popular but also the sexophobe Bloomberg got a lot of applause.



While all the gay newspapers had been full of complaints about his efforts to close down little cruising bars and porn video stores. An endless series of churches, aids-organizations, ethnic groups, political clubs, and companies followed.

These were not just gay companies but also big ones such as Delta Airlines and Washington Mutual. It was a rather uninspiring parade of people struggling to look proud in the summer heat. And there are huge gaps in between because traffic needs to keep crossing that Fifth Avenue as well.



The most surprising gathering I saw later that day at the end of Christopher Street and along the Hudson River. This is where the young black and Latino dykes and queers hang out.

Surprisingly equally balanced sex wise, almost all from poorer population groups, men often a little effeminate, the women butch. They formed a large majority and looked remarkably happy and self assured - the future of the gay world?



 







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