This past Sunday (June 29th) was the New York City Pride Parade. This event is unlike any other parade that happens in New York City, or really any where. Anything goes at this parade. I mean you have naked people marching, a guy in a tutu and rainbow colors dyed in his beard, and drag queens galore. It never ceases to amaze me all of the different people who come out to either march or watch this event. I love the gay world.
I have been going to NYC Pride Parade for 10 years running. For the first two years I attended, I was able to participate in the parade by marching with Starbucks. It was one of the many benefits I had as an employee while I was with them. All the years after, I had different methods about how I was going to watch the parade as well as travel to the city. The first couple of times I’ve taken the train in. I was able to experience the festival down at the pier after the parade or go to a random bar in the village where all my friends would be. The result: I would end up in pain from the copious amounts of walking and the summer heat. This method isn’t my favorite but it is definitely ideal. More so recently I have been driving into the city. My best friend Peter is the one who started this trend and because he made me apart of it the past 4 or 5 years, I now prefer this method. This way we can bring as much stuff as we can fit in the car plus make our own little area on the street. It is the coolest thing, to do what we do and I promise to anyone who decides to listen to my advice, will thank me for it.
We basically set up camp on 5th Avenue. What I mean by setting up camp is we bring coolers, camping chairs, and we set ourselves up so no one can invade our space. The tools to a successful camp for Pride Parade is very important. Without these, you will either lose your spot or be devoured in the millions of people that show up for this parade.
The Parade starts at 12:00 PM, which means we get there by 10:30 AM or 11 AM (the latest). We pack our coolers (which have wheels, trust me, without wheels it sucks if you park far from your destination). The coolers are packed with sandwiches, lots of ice, frozen water bottles (wrapped in foil, depending on how many in your group), and of course liquor. Next would be folding camp chairs, like I said, depending on your group that’s how many you should bring. Trust me though, it is better to go with more than four people. This way you can make a semi circle with your chairs on the corner of the street, the barricades will become your best friend. It will prevent people from intruding in your area so much, especially if you make them all connect in the “(” shape. Also have someone on each side of the openings. You want your bouncers to be the bitchest ones of the group, they will kick out random stragglers. Remember when I said to pack frozen water bottles? Trust me, bring enough and then some, because if you make friends with the cops, it will benefit your time there.
Now, you will have all the space you need to place your coolers in front of you and have walking room. This parade has boat loads of people and tends to get pretty crowded. Personally I hate claustrophobia, I want my space with my friends and I want to have a good time before some asshole decides he or she or it wants to block my view by standing in front of me. This year, Peter decided to bring two 2-Foot long bungee cords with hooks on either end. You would hook one end onto the barricade and the other end onto your camp chair, this is done on the end chairs. Boom, VIP for you and your friends. Seriously, it is that easy.
The next bit of advice is location. This year, we got really lucky. We parked five cars away from 5th Avenue. We didn’t need a parking garage this time. Usually we would park in a garage and lug our shit to our opportune spot. Parking is key, if you can avoid a garage then you can go to and from your vehicle as much as you want. Where you set up camp is very important too. You want to try and do it in front of a store that has bathrooms accessible to the public. I know New York City isn’t the cleanest, but when you gotta go you gotta go. This way, you don’t have to look too far when you need to leave camp for those couple of minutes.
Now that I have given my advice on what to do at a parade, let me tell you about my experience this year. I had an awesome time, I went with my girlfriend, Peter, and a few of our other friends. We all had some drinks, did some dancing to the music coming from floats passing by, getting free shit, and I was loving every second of it. You had floats such as Chase Bank, United Airlines, and TD Bank. People marched such as Gay Cheerleaders of New York, PFLAG (Parents Friends and Family For Lesbians and Gays), and Pace University; just to name a few. It is amazing how much crap you come home with from this; stickers, beads, bracelets, t-shirts, etc. I have enough pride stuff to last me forever.
It was towards the end of the parade that I had the most amazing experience, and one of the best moment’s that I’ve ever had. Ever watch RuPaul’s Drag Race on LOGO? If you haven’t you definitely should. The premise of the show is drag queens compete to become the ultimate drag superstar. This past season (season six) has been my absolute favorite. There were two queens on the show that I really were routing for; Bianca Del Rio and Adore Delano. Bianca is a sassy bitch who is an insult comic but is also a seasoned queen; she knows the ins and outs of the drag world and knows how to perform on the runway. She ended up winning the whole entire show. Even though I was routing for her, I also was really routing for Adore Delano. Adore is young and fresh punk-repertoire and it shows with her favorite words being “party” and “fuck”. I loved her style and how she would hit the runway with spice every single time; she knew she looked good and used it to her full advantage. Even though she didn’t win, I am still a very big fan.
As I was saying, at the end of the parade, the very last float was the LOGO float. I couldn’t tell at first who was on it because everyone was facing the other side of the street. All of a sudden I saw Bianca Del Rio’s ginormous hair and Adore Delano’s punked-out-sexy-chic look. My girlfriend and I went nuts. We both kept screaming their names and how we want to take a picture of them. I saw Bianca ask a gentlemen on the float something and then she hopped off with Adore and came over to my girlfriend and I and embraced us with the biggest hug. I will never forget that. It sounds unreal but it is completely true. They totally jumped off the float and came over to us first. I was shocked and I was able to get a picture with Bianca and my girlfriend. Once we got our picture we gave her one last hug before she went to the next group of fans. I see Adore walk further down to get pics with people, I knew I wasn’t going to be satisfied until I had my picture with her. Not many people were left on our side of the street. But when I was screaming with excitement that they got off the float, all of a sudden our barricade of chairs didn’t matter and a swarm of people started to bombard their way in. Once I saw my opportunity, I bolted after Adore. I was able to squeeze my way in and get a picture with her too. I kept telling her how I was routing for her and she was mine and my girlfriends absolute favorite. She gave me THE biggest kiss on my cheek, leaving a big lipstick mark on my face and told me I was adorable. I was in awe. I totally met someone I was routing for on RuPaul’s Drag Race. I walked back to my group, and I am totally freaking out about my moment like an obsessed-crazed-fan. I didn’t care, I got to meet Bianca Del Rio and Adore Delano; 2014 has been made. My girlfriend and I still can’t get over it, four days later and we are still gushing about it like it just happened.
I’ll never forget NYC Pride 2014 because of them. It was fucking awesome #party.
Thanks for reading. Tune in next blog when I talk about Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC 2014!