It is unusual to open a photo essay about Gay Pride with a photo of smiling kids. This year I chose to highlight lgbt youth and document how they celebrate PRIDE.
The last Sunday in June is the annual Gay Pride Parade in New York City in which upwards of a million spectators converge on the city to watch the colorful spectacle and participate in events celebrating LGBT life and culture. LGBT pride or gay pride is the concept that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity.The movement has three main premises: that people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity, that diversity is a gift, and that sexual orientation and gender identity are inherent and cannot be intentionally altered. The word PRIDE is used in this case as an antonym for shame, which has been used to control and oppress LGBT persons throughout history. Pride in this sense is an affirmation of ones self and the community as a whole.
This year, I opted to forgo the parade and head straight to the pier in the West Village, where thousands of young LGBT youth of color express their own Pride with festivities, which include lots of frolicking, singing, dancing, posing, playing, coupling, and living out loud all the while making bold statements and expressions about their sexuality. I felt it neccessary to highlight the youth this year because they are so often overlooked in our community and I was struck with the feelings of freedom these young people exuded. "Freedom", in a rare form...
PRIDE is an important and necessary event for LGBT youth particulary. Just ask eighteen year old Constance McMillen who's Mississippi High School cancelled the Prom, simply because she asked officials there if she could wear a tux and bring her girlfriend as a date. Stories of discrimination, or worse, abuse, are not foreign to many LGBT youth who face the daily challenge of living free and open about their sexual orientation. LGBT youth are often ostracized from their families and communities, and bullied in school particularly if living in urban cities. They are forced to assimilate into the street culture, and live life on the DL for fear of isolation, rejection and even death, at the receiving end of homophobia.
It makes sense then, that every last Sunday in June that LGBT youth from inner cities all across this country make a pilgrimage to the pier in the West Village. NYC Pride offers youth (and LGBT people of all ages) a safe space to live out loud, outside the bounds of discrimination and oppression.