1. Tell me about your first Pride.
June 1970, the first Christopher Street Liberation Day march in NYC. From the Village up Fifth Avenue to Central Park. Stonewall tore the city apart the previous year and things still hadn’t settled down. There was an uneasy truce with the NYPD and some doubted the first march to commemorate the first anniversary of the riots would happen at all. It did, it was a mind-blowing experience, (though there was some fear) that so many gay folks came together to make the day happen.
2. What did that first Pride mean to you?
FREEDOM! While I was out, it hurt that so many others couldn’t be - but were there, anyway. Masked or disguised, but there. On the other hand it was also “about time” after years of protests and fighting the NYPD, Mayor Lindsey’s City Hall and the mob, who owned every sleazy gay bar in town.
3. How many different Prides have you been to?
I marched in every NYC pride event from the first in 1970 up through 1989 ( a marshal from 84 - 89) when virtually all my friends had died of AIDS. It became too strained, forced, surreal. I marched in Minneapolis Pride in 1982 because I was there on business, so what the hell!
4. Do you fly the Pride Flag and/or stick it to anything?
Used to fly the 4 X 6 size from the house in my previous life. Now there is a small one on my front door, and a sticker on the car. And whenever I write to my elected officials, there is always a rainbow sticker somewhere on the envelope. Just so they know.
5. Do you still celebrate Pride? What does it mean to you now?
I began celebrating again when I moved to Delaware, although their Pride event is an open fair with entertainment, no march or parade, and it happens in September. I don’t spend too much time there. I still get depressed when I remember friends lost and the great times in NYC.
6. Does Pride need improving? If so, what changes would you make?
The only thing I think needs more doing is educating our young’uns about our/their history. Teach them to be proud of who they are every day, not just around friends at a Pride event. A bold step for some here in the tiny state of Delaware, but more and more are choosing to come out. Makes me proud.
7. How do you give back?
In the early days I was a member of The Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. Later I worked with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. In the 80s and 90s (before moving to DE, my then spouse and I were mentors at P-FLAG, NJ. During the height of the AIDS crisis of the 80s I worked within the Buddy System; was full-time care giver for the younger brother of my then spouse, until his death in 1987. I was spent, burned out. Could never handle that emotional roller coaster ever again. I’ll be around for others, but only in minor supporting roles.
What kind of trouble or embarrassing moment have you had during Pride?
Got my head busted by NYPD for pausing in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral - shouting “Shame, Shame” while shaking my fist at the church. Cop must have been a catholic homophobe, because I got busted pretty good. Missed the post-march event (in those days) in Central Park. Instead, I was at St. Vincent’s hospital receiving stitches and ending the evening with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red to ease my pain and ego.
Thanks to Sean over at “Just a Jeep Guy”
And so it goes.