At this year’s Pride March the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps added a surprise number, trombone player Jeff Nordahl told us before the parade started: a “wedding medley.” Right after the purple and white clad band marched away from their station between Madison and 5th Avenues on 40th Street to begin their part of the parade a woman stopped us. She had noticed.
“The band that just took off, they were doing the ‘Wedding March,’ it was just so touching,” said Janet Green, who was heading down 5th Ave. with Continuum Health Partners.
Marriage was the overwhelming theme of this year’s parade after the the historic bill passed Friday. Signs across the parade route thanked Governor Andrew Cuomo, who made an appearance. Homemade efforts included John Polizzi’s “Homo for Cuomo in 2016” and later on we spotted “Andrew Cuomo is our ‘Best Man.'” There were top hats, garters and white to go along with the matrimonial music, which, as far as we could tell, was the only wedding reference that had to take a backseat: Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and Katy Perry’s “Firework” were the dominant theme songs.
The pop anthems were two of the pre-recorded songs the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus blasted from a U-Haul truck decorated with yellow and purple streamers. The group wore shirts emblazoned with the same color and the phrase “(Accentuate the) Positive,” the title of their upcoming concert about HIV/AIDS. Jordan Barbakoff marched with the group the first year it participated in 1981.
“The marriage equality thing just is icing on a cake, but we’ve been at the forefront of singing for gay rights for a long time,” he said. “This is sort of the pièce de résistance for us.”
A block away from the GMC more groups were getting set up, and marcher Candi Bryant, 27, showed us her wedding ring. Her partner Zainab Berte, 28, proposed Friday after hearing the news.
Meanwhile Alba Hochman, who was with her partner Debra and the Butch/Femme Society, was wearing her “wedding dress,” a white 1950s-style number with a lace veil that she wore for her civil union in October. However, the two, who are New Jersey residents, are waiting for marriage to become legal in their state to tie the knot in that fashion. (Their helicopter-happy Governor Chris Christie has other thoughts.)
Gown-wearing CUNY Professor Jim Saslow changed his costume last minute to Juno, goddess of marriage. He was going to be Venus, the goddess of love, before Friday.
There was even a public parade route proposal. After the Gay Officers Action League finished the parade one of the announcers told the crowd that one of the police officers had just asked her partner to marry her. She said yes.
If they wanted a minister, they could have found one in the crowd at Christopher and Hudson Streets. Dahlia Heyman, a creative executive of a film production, held up a sign saying, “I AM A LICENSED MINISTER.” She explained she had gotten licensed in order to perform a straight friend’s wedding and if anyone wants her to perform a service 30 days from now, she said, “I’ll do it for free.”
Politicians were treated like rock stars. Besides the outpouring of love for Cuomo, Senator Chuck Schumer walked the parade route yelling rallying cries into a microphone: “As New York goes, so does America.”
As New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn made her way down Christopher Street amid a sea of people wearing shirts that read, “Our Next March is Down the Aisle,” people from the crowd shouted, “I love you” and “thank you.” When State Senator Tom Duane finished the route after her, he was swarmed for photo ops.
We jumped in to get a word with Quinn before she departed.
“It was just an amazing outpouring of energy and gratitude and excitement,” Quinn said. “You were really much more floating down 5th Avenue than you were walking.”
Check out the Voice‘s photo slideshow of the festivities.