copyrighted photo - to post, please ask for permission: email@example.comPuerto Rican Day Parade, June 13, 1999: Organizations including Las Buenas Amigas, Latino Gay Men of New York and Primer Movimiento Peruano participate in the definitely non-gay Puerto Rican Day Parade.
I believe it's the biggest parade of the year in Manhattan and I remember being absolutely intimidated by the huge crowds. There were some plastic bottles thrown at us and a few middle fingers raised and insults hurled but there were also lots of Puerto Rican lesbians on the sidelines that jumped with joy when they saw us (at least that was my impression, maybe the gay Puerto Rican guys kept it on the down low).
I also remember that the transgender women in the groups put me to shame in actually walking into the crowds and handing out information with no fear - despite that they bore the brunt of most of the laughter and insults. I drew courage from them to say "fuck it" and just decided to enjoy the experience.
Participating in the city's gay pride marches and events might be fun and pretty and self-empowering but I always thought it is more important to be present and visible in events like these that are not necessarily as gay-friendly.
A couple of years later, I remember marching in a much smaller contingent (practically by myself and three other people from the Puerto Rican Initiative to Develop Empowerment) right in front of the Latin Kings who were dressed in yellow - their gang colors. Not sure if they realized we were a gay group but they certainly were really friendly and cheering us on.
This year the Latin Kings were banned from the parade for the first time ever and the police arrested more than two hundred people when they tried to break into the parade route anyway.