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Proud LGBT Marchers 'Live, Love, Be' Undeterred by Downpour
photo by Brude-Michael Gelbert
"Live, Love, Be" was the theme of the 39th annual New York City LGBT Pride March down Fifth Avenue, organized by Heritage of Pride, on June 29. When the heavens opened up, at about 2:30 p.m., shortly after we observed the Moment of Silence in memory of those lost to AIDS, they might have added to the exhortations, "Get Wet," but "Get Over It," as leathers and feathers, wigs, gowns, and floats got a soaking, but spirits mostly remained undampened.

Following a gala Pride Breakfast, courtesy of our friends, Paul Kimball and Barry Sorkin, with whom some of us have been celebrating since the late 1970s, we joined the GMSMA (Gay Male S&M Activists) contingent, for which Mr. Fire Island Leather 2006 Master Tom (Joe's successor) served as Marshal, and saw members of Metrobears New York, the Eulenspiegel Society, and Males au Naturel, the gay naturists, sporting Mylar balloons and little else, and, on the Eagle NYC float, Mr. Eagle 2006 Rick Weber and Mr. FI Leather 2007 Diego Vargas.

We saw PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and the LGBT Community Center Grand Marshal contingents. Gilbert Baker, designer of the rainbow flag, and transgender actress Candis Cayne were the other Grand Marshals. We waved to Empresses Panzi and Gefil Tefish, Mr. FI Leather 2008 Isaac Steven Vaughan, Mistress Mir, and announcer and auctioneer extraordinaire Jo Arnone when we reached the Judges' tent at 25th Street.

There were superheroes and brides, bears and cubs, Juicy and Chicklet, and Jimmy "Saslovna" Saslow. We saw veteran activists Jean DeVente and, at the newly restored Pridefest, New York State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick. Reigning New York Emperor Rob Hunter de Woofs and Empress Charlene Chivoe joined a large complement from the Imperial Court of New York, which boasted a jungle safari theme for the occasion. We spotted Monarchs Anne Tique, Gabriel Della Notte, and Robin Kradles, as well as Mr. FI Leather 2002 Peter B (my successor).

We ran into Emad Heikal, Gabriel Rivas and the rest of the Times Squares, wearing kilts made by Emad, and celebrating the square-dancing group's 25th anniversary. The New York City Gay Men's Chorus was there, as were cast members of gay-themed theater pieces. We noted the Front Runners and, performing gravity-defying athletic feats before our eyes, Cheers New York. Members of the Atlantic States Gay Rodeo Association were in attendance.

We saw Brazilian, Peruvian, Colombian, Caribbean and Asian groups. ACT-UP was there, as were GMHC and God's Love We Deliver. HX, Gay City News, and here! tv had floats. A group with an "Obama Pride" banner declared its preference for next President of the United States.

We saw a group wearing t-shirts reading "I Am a Proud Israeli," and carrying rainbow and Israeli flags, and George Plagianos, with the banner for Axios Eastern and Orthodox LGBT Christians, celebrating a 25th anniversary.

We rounded off our day with dinner in the Village and a stop on 'Leather Alley,' Weehawken Street next to the Dugout, where we saw many more friends.


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