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AT FIRST I COULD NEVER UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF PRIDE. I COULD NOT COMPREHEND WHY WE HAD THIS ONE DAY THAT LGBTQ IDENTIFIED INDIVIDUALS FELT THEY COULD FLAUNT THEIR IDENTIFICATION. I FELT THAT WE DID NOT HAVE TO DISCLOSE WHO WE ARE BECA– USE, HONESTLY, THE LGBTQ IDENTIFICATION JUST TOLD THE WORLD ONE’S SEXUAL PREFERENCE, WHICH I ALWAYS FELT WAS NO ONE ELSE’S CONCERN OR BUSINESS. I FELT THAT WHAT OCCURRED BETWEEN TWO INDIVIDUALS, NO MATTER GENDER OR IDENTIFICATION, WAS SOLELY THE PARTICIPANT’S BUSINESS.

I would listen as people who were descendants of slaves and slavery, those who came from discrimination, those who stand in congregations screaming about job
discrimination, sexism and racism, would negate the need for LGBTQ Pride and the festival that occurs during the month of June spanning all boroughs.
THEN I REALIZED IT WAS SO MUCH MORE! As described by a lesbian who has been attending pride for a period spanning 30 years just as a participant, not working with any affiliation or organization, when asked what Pride meant to her, she exclaimed, “Yo freedom! We count! The significance that we have rights! We are human beings!”

It was that last Sunday in June that reassured her that she could be who she is and love who she desires. It is that last Sunday of every June that sees hundreds of thousands line the streets of NYC celebrating the fact that we do matter. The sea of color and splendor brings a spirit of life to the city that even in years as protestors stood on the sidelines condemning us to hell and believing that they had authority over our lives, to take our lives, that the numbers of OUT individuals grew. It is this
last Sunday of every month that gives strength and affirmation to those desiring to live their truth. For some heterosexuals it has become a time when the outpouring of love the LGBTQ community shows each other touches their hearts and at times gains us allies.

The New York City Pride festival began after the Stonewall Riots, and today each year that the car with the Stonewall Veterans of the Stonewall Veterans Association passes by, it should remind of the sacrifices of so many like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, who lost her life during the Pride celebration of 1992. Her death was ruled a suicide until the case was reopened in 2012.

The New York City Manhattan festival attracts tourists to the city from near and far. It seems as the many different identifications under each umbrella converge on the
streets of Manhattan, the identifications and umbrellas seem to blow away. The bears, the lesbians, the gays, the transsexuals, the white, the black, the Latino, the muscular, the queer, the clubs and promoters, the organizations, all seem to participate not only promoting their different events but also giving knowledge that there is a space where you are welcome on the other 364 days of the year, whether it is for health issues, support or to have a wonderful night out.

People join in the parade as the floats pass by, hugging, dancing and laughing as though they do not possess a care in the world. For a few years I participated with the
West Indian crew, but the most BY TYRA ALLURE significant to me was last year, 2013. I was attacked the night before Pride returning home from being with friends and loved ones in the Village. I was not attacked for my transexperience, but the thought of losing my life was still quite overwhelming, and once my trans experience came to light sympathy was a thing of the past for those who could have aided me. There were so many ifs.

The next morning I proceeded to my job on 34th Street in Manhattan still shaken from the night before. As I was leaving my job I heard the festivities going on, but I was in no mood. I had no choice but to cross the parade, and I ran smack dead into the West Indian float with friends and family now beckoning me to join in what seemed to be the time of a lifetime. It was not long before I was a part of the procession. It was as though I was caught in a wave, and it felt wonderful. It was the time
of a lifetime. I felt a feeling of belonging, and I felt safe. I began to feel what it could feel like for many others oppressed, feeling as though they may not survive the next day facing violence, discrimination and so much more. I had found that true meaning of Pride.

This day in Manhattan was not just a day to show the world I was proud to be me; it was a day when I showed the world that I could survive. I took the Pride day personally from that moment. I was celebrating my life, and I was able to do it with everyone else celebrating theirs. I was able to celebrate my survival like so many who stood around me were doing. I would never wish a traumatic experience on any other human being, but for me my experience opened my eyes to the beauty and respect that is paid to a vast community because people fought for it, people died for it and we demanded it. People believed in their right to be who they are, to be respected as human beings, and each year in Manhattan we tell the world that the fight will never end. None of this would have had to happen if we had gotten respect in the very first place.

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