The New York City Pride March is always an emotional undertaking for any LGBTQ person willing to take the time to look around at those in attendance. This year I was lucky enough to be invited by Skyy Vodka to ride on their float in the parade as part of their #ProudlyAmerican campaign that launched this month and celebrates the various ways Americans display bravery in their daily lives. RuPaul's Drag Race season 10 alum Dusty Ray Bottoms, who also starred in the campaign, was onboard helping to spread the self-love message.
Riding high above the parade route gave me the perfect vantage point to see the layers of people that had come out to celebrate the LGBTQ community. Transgender kids, queer people of color, and rainbow-draped men and women filled the sidewalks throughout the Village, in front of the iconic Stonewall Inn, all the way to the Flatiron building where the parade route ended.
And the beauty wasn't in the fact that everyone forgot about the community's struggles for a single day or weekend. Plenty of people used the parade as an opportunity to bring continued visibility to social issues that pervade America's and the world's LGBTQ population - workplace rights and the dangers faced by transgender sex workers among them - it was the fact that our community can celebrate itself, remember where we came from, and look forward to where we're going, all in a single day, that was the most beautiful.
People with signs celebrating loved ones, calling Donald Trump a fascist, and professing their appreciation for queer icons of the past all meshed together to perfectly illustrate the state of the LGBTQ community and why Pride is important. We're faced with increasingly difficult social situations because of an uncaring White House administration, but there's still cause to celebrate. We're here, and we're not going anywhere.