New York, Nu York: Parades Are Fun; Parades Are Political

Yesterday, which was Sunday, June 26th, I attended the New York City Pride Parade for the very first time in my life. I had thought of doing so in the past but many times the parade conflicted with other events on my schedule (such as my wedding). But I will also admit that as a straight woman I felt a bit self-conscious about going to this parade, which celebrates Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer people and their rights, causes and culture. I am not homophobic but I did feel a bit uncomfortable about going, in the past.
This year I decided I would go for a few reasons: one, it seems like the quintessential NYC experience. A big splashy parade of fun and messages. Also I decided to go to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community after the horrific shooting spree in the Orlando nightclub the Pulse, perpetrated by a crazed Muslim shooter. And I happened to be traveling through Manhattan from the Bronx (for another activity) so I figured I'd stop by this parade.
I stayed for half an hour and walked around the side streets where several parade floats were waiting to roll. It was a colorful spectacle for sure! The music was loud, people were dancing and dressing up and adjusting items on their floats. Then I went to 5th Avenue and watched for a short while.
I am glad I went but of course it is a political move, of course, and it cannot be avoided. I held a rainbow Pride flag which drew both smiles from many and some "ick" faces from a few people. I posted a selfie from the Parade on my Facebook account which some people "liked" and others roundly ignored. And one member of my family, who is gay but didn't attend the parade (he lives far away) wrote "First ever?! That's meshuggah! Wish I was there..." So I had to defend myself for not having attended before. Oy.
I explained that I have been to the Salute to Israel Parade for every year of my life (except one) since I was ten years old. This person never attended. Look, the Israel Parade is much more my scene and has been an integral part of my life since I was a kid; the Pride Parade has not, but I wanted to attend it at least once (and plan to do so again). But I know just as well as anyone else that the Salute to Israel Parade has politics tied into it. There are people who think it is too exclusive, some think it's too inclusive. Some people are afraid to attend because they think they could be victims of a terrorist attack. Some people won't go, so they tell me, because "too many Orthodox people go " while others say "there are men and boys without kipot, and girls and women wearing pants." The list goes on.
The Israel Parade and the Pride Parade have lots of political baggage; they're not just marching and fun and music. But so is every single ethnic and cause parade. The St. Patrick's Day Parade has dealt with various controversies, as has the Columbus Day Parade. The Puerto Rican Day Parade and West Indian Parade have witnessed violent crimes a few times. Parades ain't just about kids whooping it up. That's NYC for you, folks.