The last Sunday in June is particularly striking for the homo community. It commemorates that fateful Sunday more than 4 decades ago in Stonewall when the queers led an impulsive yet substantive, and violent, protest against the cops in that West Village area. It was the first public assertion of gay rights which, at that time, meant to simply gather together. It was that pivotal demonstration of the queers’ desire to be. So many years have past since that night and the protest continues. The manner has since changed — from drag queens throwing beer bottles to Lambda Legal lawyers pursuing judicial precedent — but the substantive issue remains radically the same — homosexual rights. Gay men, lesbians and trannies no longer wish to live in the shadows of their hetero brothers and sisters. They have come out and are proud of who they are and what they do and how they love. Different, but equal is the cry. Out and proud is the spirit.

I went to the Pride parade last Sunday. It started at noon and went on down 5th Avenue and into Christopher St. for the next 5 hours. It must have been the weather but my spot on 44th St. allowed me first row seats to the spectacle. (The other 2 parades I went to were almost impossible to watch since I was six men deep.) A woman holding a “Jesus is My Homeboy” sign from the Presbyterian Church. A gaggle of gorgeous boys in their thongs gyrating to the beat on the HX mag float. An old man in rollerblades giving out “God Made Me Queer” stickers from the Metropolitan Church of Christ. Queer cops in uniform marching together. Gay high school groups from Princeton, NJ to Westchester, NY. The gay Catholic group Dignity marching under the banner of the St. Francis Xavier Church, the Jesuit parish on Union Square (which is the faithful refuge of gay Catholics in NYC, devout and lapse alike.) Retired homos on an NYU trolley sponsored by the Monster Bar. Kevin Aviance, the circuit performer who was a victim of a violent gay hate beating, riding on a float with his head high despite his jaw wired shut. Parents of gay men and lesbians holding banners of support as part of the PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) contingent. The Marriage Now contingent marching before the Polyamorous NYC group. A troop of buff bods in superhero costumes (of the crotchhugging kind) on the Next mag float. Christine Ebersole, the Broadway star, wet from the rain and wild in her Edia Bouvier character on her Grey Gardens the Musical float. (I just luv her even more for doing that.) There were so many other sights and sounds in that parade of overlowing spirit. The rainbow flags were being waved everywhere but it really was the parade itself that was the ultimate showcase of such a rainbow — diverse colors flowing in one united band.

Today, exactly a week from that day, is my birthday. I am a 29-year-old gay male living in NYC. Coming out is a process and I am proud and happy to be going through it. The parade last Sunday reassures me that I am never alone in this journey. I am always traveling with as I continue passing through.