Yesterday was the culmination of a month of events and celebrations across New York as Pride NYC ignited parties and parades across all five boroughs. The flagship event, and perhaps the rowdiest, began in the Midtown-adjacent Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea and moved south down to 16th, crossing over to 7th Avenue gradually from 5th Avenue between 25th and 16th streets. With the parade ending just north of the West Village, home to night (or, in yesterday’s case, day) life in bars and restaurants, the party moved to MacDougal Street and the surrounding neighborhoods as celebrations of the LGBTQ+ community ran late into the night.
However, it wasn’t just middle-aged adults welcome to Pride events as in years past; young adults and teenagers were welcome as well. To clarify, they weren’t invited to partake in activities illicit for their age, i.e., drinking or smoking with adults of age. That’s not to say they didn’t do these things, they merely weren’t enabled to by these events.
No, what I mean by younger people being ‘welcome’ at these events more than in the past is that the events themselves were more accommodating to younger people. Pride celebrations were catered to a younger crowd of people in a way that I, in any case, was not used to seeing as a young person.
At least, that was true for younger people (such as myself, being a teenager) at Pride events in and around Washington Square Park, where I spent the bulk of yesterday. In fact, I’d say that between 70% and 80% of the people I talked to yesterday at Washington Square Park were either high schoolers or college students. The atmosphere was light, generally speaking, with most people just looking for a good time, whether that be smoking on the grass or running through the fountain or taking photos with drag queens. It was a space where you could either keep completely to yourself and your group or make friends with random strangers.
This brings me to my main point; when Pride celebrations, especially in a city as large and as diverse as New York, are exclusive to young people, that’s not pride in your identity but in announcing your identity. When Pride events aren’t inclusive of young people, they don’t have the opportunity to meet other individuals who identify or feel similarly to them. Specifically for closeted young people, Pride events being exclusively for adults is implicit of not being “old enough” to know definitively how you identify. It’s reassuring for young people to see themselves in one another, and Pride events provide that.
Pride celebrations at Washington Square Park, Sunday June 25th, 2023. Photo taken by me.
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