June 24, 2018

Dateline: New York, New York –

I got up at a far too early hour this morning to schlep myself up to Grand Central Station and catch the train for New Canaan. It is my Uncle Don’s 85th birthday and the east coast clan was gathering for brunch. Off I went, to find myself in the middle of a family photo shoot followed by brunch at the Inn at Pound Ridge, one of those suburban/rural locavore farm to table restaurants where Thai broccoli soup and French toast were to be had in abundance. Over the leisurely meal, I caught up my uncle, my cousin Jack, his wife and their adorable and far too bright children.

Then it was back to the city where I caught a little bit of the pride parade on 5th Avenue. (Just enough to say yep, been there, seen that before heading back to Gramercy.) There I met up with Ellise Pruitt Mayor who had been upstate over the weekend for a wedding and has now joined me to be my partner in crime in Manhattan for the next few days. We were both tired so we went out to dinner. (A new place called Tangra at Lexington and 27th which was Chinese/Indian fusion – excellent) and then retired to jammies and television, with the noise of the pride revelers drifting in from the west.

Andy and Leah Luker – Birmingham Pride 2018 (Debbie Smith all princessy in the background)

In thirty years or so as an out gay man, I have been to most of the major pride parades including Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, New Orleans, New York, and of course Birmingham. There have long been debates about the nature of pride and the parade, even in the gay community. There are constant squabbles between the separationists who want the gay community to be distinct and apart from the straight world and the assimilationists who believe we should be just like everyone else. Tommy, in particular, was not fond of pride parades. He was very much an assimilationist and felt that people paid too much attention to the leather guys and the go go boys and not enough to positive images and role models. I’m much more neutral on that. I think the whole rich variety of human experience needs to be celebrated and that drag queens and leather guys need to have their existence acknowledged and respected.

Andy, Tommy and Karen Matteson – Birmingham Pride 2004

My biggest issue now with the big city pride parades is that there are so many supportive groups and allies, that the marches have become overly long. But isn’t that a good problem to have?

I can’t think of any particular story to tell tonight. I’ve been in pride parades and watched them, but nothing particularly noteworthy has ever happened at any of them. And given the propensity of American society to gang up on the other, that’s also a good thing.

In the pictures above, I and Tommy are wearing the same light blue T-shirt. I bought it at San Francisco Pride in 1989, the first one I attended with Steve. It’s always been a favorite shirt of mine and I tend to break it out for pride celebrations, gay cruises and other such events. May it last another thirty years…

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