New York City celebrated Gay Pride with the support of a crowd of approximately 1 million people, including Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. But not everyone downtown was in on the celebration.
Kelsey Harrison is an openly gay woman who said she doesn’t feel a connection to the celebration, with its flashy floats and loud music.
“Pride doesn’t have much to do with my experience as a gay person,” she explained. “I’m not anti-Pride, I just can’t seem to connect to how it is celebrated here.”
Chelsea has identified as a gay neighborhood for more than 20 years, and through its gentrification, increasing rent, and the building of the High Line it has become one of the most expensive places to live in Manhattan. Since Pride is primarily celebrated in Chelsea, a lot of the events occur in trendy nightclubs and stylish rooftops with ticketed events and expensive cocktail menus. These kinds of events have left many in the LGBT community feeling left out.
Elliot Townsend is a 24-year-old gay man, who works at The Studio on West 27th Street. Although he feels lucky to live in a place where he can so openly celebrate his sexuality, he also hasn’t been able to connect to the Pride parade.
“I think that there is this image of what being gay looks like, and if you Google gay men you get a lot of images from the Pride parades, which show very muscular men who are dancing in Speedos,” he said.
“I’m not saying that is a bad representation of our community, but I just don’t see myself that way.”
Townsend had a very similar point of view as Harrison, explaining that he hopes the Pride events can soon cater to a larger audience. They both mentioned including events outside of Manhattan. “I don’t think the parade should change in any way because it is such a positive celebration, but it would be nice to find some other ways of celebrating each other,” he said. Despite their differing point of views, there was a very clear desire to stay connected to the history of gay rights and culture.
Constantine Mitides, 25, works as a computer programmer in the Flatiron District; he hopes that people don’t forget the reason the Pride Parade even began.
“Pride has become this big party where a bunch of beautiful gay men are dancing in the parade, but it isn’t very representative of our history,” Mitides said “I bet if you were to ask a lot of people in our generation why we even have a parade, not many would know it began with the Stonewall riots.”
The LGBT community has seen so much progress since the Stonewall Inn riots 45 years ago, and younger generations hope that their community can continue to evolve so everyone can feel equally represented. The question is whether New York’s signature gay pride event accomplishes that.
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