“Oh Wow”

Reason behind the title of this post? Simple. It’s a phrase I uttered probably two hundred times as my friend Alex keeps telling me. The New York Pride Parade was without a doubt an experience that I can’t compare to any other. There were tens of thousands of people around me, all carrying different signs, representing different groups, and wearing some of the wackiest clothing combinations I had ever seen. I was definitely somewhat taken aback by how much skin some individuals were exposing, but that was  something that contributed to the uniqueness of the experience!

The pride march was part of a month-long LGBTQ celebration, with the theme this year being “Share the Love,” and that is definitely what stood out throughout the parade. Thousands of people, highlighted, above all, the need to respect others and take pride in who we all are, despite potential differences in opinion that may arise.

Many of the participants had megaphones and addressed those watching directly, asking them to avoid judging others, and to remember how negative consequences can occur if we are not mindful of how things we say can affect the people around us. Cyndi Lauper, the Grand Marshall of the march, also with a megaphone continuously expressed her love for everyone who came out. I don’t know how she didn’t run out of breath!

The floats were insane! They were perfectly designed, and most of them were mobile parties (and the song “Call Me Maybe” was being blasted on almost each one). However, I was most touched by the attendance of the New York Police Department, whose participation in my opinion truly showed the importance of maintaining and securing everyone’s rights, regardless of their personal beliefs.

Once the parade was over (time honestly flew by), the one thing that kept coming to mind was how diverse the participants and spectators were. So many cultures were represented, and people cheered for all of them! It was heartwarming to see so many people come together, whether or not they were directly related to the festivities. It was one of those things that, as many say, “restore your faith in humanity.”

New York City continues to surprise me, entertain me, and enlighten me every time I visit, and that’s what I love most about it. This parade was something that, growing up in the Arab World, I was never really exposed to, nor could I have experienced. At the same time, during my many nights out back home, and in Lebanon, sometimes I couldn’t help but notice that some people were forced to keep part of their identities hidden, and remain closeted. After attending the parade, this fact did sadden me quite a bit.

So here’s hoping for some inspiration, and maybe a pride parade in Beirut next year?

Until next time.

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