Take That, Carmen Miranda! Out & Proud in NYC

SMW, SLT has been quiet lately. My life has gone from fast-lane multi-continent blur during May and June to … well, dealing with architects and contractors in between runs to the recycling center and carrying junk from Mom’s basement to the curb for big-trash day. I’ve settled in Washington Heights in upper Manhattan, and between June and August I’ve spent some time in my old haunts in SF and LA: pics from those hikes and trips will appear whenever I get around to it. Perhaps also, at some point, some shots of the beautiful Palisades, Hudson River, and George Washington Bridge of my new neighborhood. But for now, a few images from NYC’s LGBT pride parade in late June.

My first-ever pride parade came when I was 23, and since I had learned that week that my roommate had been diagnosed with AIDS, I remember crying as I watched the march. Before ARV’s, of course, this meant his prognosis was very poor indeed. In the late 80s and 90s, the parades were still fairly militant because of our anger and grief about all the friends we were losing to AIDS – I still have a picture taken at the parade in 1990 or 91 of my friend Kevin, on whom I’d had a big crush when I first met him. He had finally starting getting thin from AIDS wasting, and this was the last time I saw him; a year later a friend showed me his obituary, which contained a photo I’d taken of him on a trip to Storm King sculpture park. Things have changed during the decade or more that I’ve been away from the pride events: the fact that AIDS has become more of a chronic disease managed with ARVs has really breathed both literal and figurative life into our community. Pride seems now really to be a parade, a strutting of our confidence, variety, sexiness — and, above ALL ELSE (this is the US, after all) our purchasing power, or at least our credit cards’ purchasing power.

But this year, too, I found myself crying. I’m not sure why — maybe for Kevin or the other people we’ve all lost. Or the fact that there are still people out there who think the way we love is wrong. Or maybe in relief, inside, that I was finally among my own people. As this blog attests, I deeply loved my time in Nigeria and the people I met there. But, though my expat colleagues in general knew I date guys (or at least hope to, again, some day!), I took care not to be out to my colleagues there, since I’m pretty sure it would have had a negative impact on how I was viewed. I’m used to doing this when in the field, even though here in the US I’m pretty comfy with who I am. So I think I cried, to some extent, in relief at being able to be all the parts of me again, rather than just the hard worker and boss who has no personal feelings or desires, much. Now that I’ve been here longer, I feel my field self going deeper under ground, and I’m sort of mourning that even as I try to establish some pattern of life/work, social life, and – hey, maybe even a dating life again. And this makes me wonder who I am when I’m not a field worker with MSF – even though I firmly expect I’ll be back in the field again, doing work that challenges and enlivens me, whenever this looooooong house project is over. (Hey, maybe I’ll even find time while here to meet some fascinating smart guy who not only wants to date me, but to join me in field work — hehe, we can all dream, right?) Oh well, it’s all about balance and we’re all seeking it all the time. Enjoy the pics: an unusual set, for this blog, I know. Never fear: there’ll be shots from the mountains and hills of coastal and inland California soon enough.

It was nice to see that some people in the parade still remember our roots in political activism: being this out, loud and proud was NOT always so easy! I’ve been pleased and surprised at the amount of anti-war sentiment, considering how reviled I felt when I opposed the war back at the beginning.

…and the mandatory ‘Self Portrait with Parade’

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