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Pride Reflections

Pride Reflections

Les Fabian Braithwaite

Finding Pride before marriage equality. 

At 11:55 p.m. on June 24, 2011, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed marriage equality into law, just as the city was preparing for its annual Pride Parade, lending an added layer of excitement to the festivities. I imagine all of Gay New York was abuzz with the news, but 300 miles away, my friends and I were preoccupied with our celebration.

Like many a gay friend-group before us, we had made coming to Provincetown something of a tradition. Ptown was where we felt most at home, most ourselves, and most free. Over the years, my group of New York queens got friendly and intermingled with a crew from Boston, so that when Beantown's own Alec and Brooks announced their plans to wed, we dutifully made our sojourn to the Cape.

It was my first same-sex wedding and the first same-sex wedding for nearly all of us. Though only 25 at the time, I had already resigned myself to lifelong bachelorhood and marriage held no intrigue for me -- it had never even really seemed a possibility, so I greeted the news coming out of my home state with muted happiness. Still, we all wondered aloud when, and if, the rest of the country would follow suit. After all, nationwide marriage equality was still four years away, even though Massachusetts had been waltzing same-sex couples down the aisle since 2004.

As the parade floats made their cumbersome way along Fifth Ave., Alec and Brooks professed their love for one another, their friends and family in attendance, on the beach of possibly the gayest town in America. Though not a traditional Pride celebration, I feel it preserved the true spirit of Pride: love, unity, and acceptance. And it remains my favorite Pride memory because I was with my favorite people, in my favorite place, celebrating something that had become less and less impossible in our lifetimes.

I experienced my first NYC Pride in ... it must have been 2005, after sophomore year -- I had stayed in the city that summer instead of going back upstate. New York felt more like home. The parade was magical in that it was my first. Everything was so loud and so colorful and so shirtless. It was transfixing. But as I grew older I also grew more disenchanted with Pride and what it represented for me. I had begun questioning my place in the queer community and my place as a black gay man in America, and I didn't see myself in this annual loud, colorful, shirtless display. It didn't feel like it was for me.

Watching Alec and Brooks exchange their vows, I felt part of something. All around me I could feel the years and years and decades it took to get here to this beach, on this day when history was made. I almost missed being in the city and being a part of that history, but I was comforted by the sound of my friends, one by one, utterly losing it, their sobs of joy crashing against the tide. At that moment, I felt that maybe marriage -- maybe love -- was possible in my lifetime.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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