Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy PRIDE Month!! (uggh so late.)

PRIDE MONTH!!!! (lame, I’m sooo late. But I tweeted lots about it when we were actually IN the month of June)   Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that June was probably a pretty big month for me with my platform, right at the end of my reign as Miss New York.

I was reminded of my Queens and Staten Island PRIDE events this week when I got an email of photos from a woman, Laura, whom I met at Queens PRIDE.  She has sent me a pin that is a rainbow colored high heel.  Could you represent my year as Miss New York any more perfectly?!  Love it.   To finally wrap up on my Miss NY year so that I can get this book of my year printed, AND start blogging as “Just Claire” here’s one final push at finishing my year of service. 

After kicking off PRIDE Month at PepsiCo, it was on to the real celebration of PRIDE Parades.  Now these parades have indeed caught flak before; I believe it was Carl Paladino who referenced them as “bumping and grinding…disgusting” and “speedo-wearing men with gyrating movements.”  I’m sure there was a “leather” reference in there somewhere.  Well stereotypes do come from some example, but are generalizations that are detrimental and limiting to any group.  Instead, at Staten Island PRIDE where I served as the Grand Marshall, there was a fairly small group of people, many youth and very diverse minorities were represented.  Christopher Hines, a producer who was filming a documentary for Logo, joined me at SI PRIDE to get a taste of the reception the community has for Miss New York.  I’ve just received word that I am “prominently featured” in the film, which will release in October.  I’m excited to see the support and highlights of exciting straight allies like myself, Hudson Taylor, Ben Cohen and more.  At the festival, we heard from many politicians in support of equality and I of course signed quite a handful of autographs.  It was great to see Kim Cantoni, Miss Liberty 2011, and Jim Smith, Executive Director of Miss Staten and the 2005 Grand Marshall of SI PRIDE!

Kim Cantoni and Jim Smith, ED of Miss Staten Island and the 1st Staten Island Grand Marshal

Danny Dromm, City Councilman
Matt Titone, NY State Assemblyman
The next day, Queens PRIDE really went above and beyond!  Danny Dromm, out City Council member, started Queens PRIDE years ago and it has grown exponentially since. I was a co-Grand Marshal with State Senator Tony Avella.   Unfortunately, I was only able to stay for the parade and lunch and did not get to visit in the festival because I was flying to Buffalo, but it was such a wonderful afternoon and I most certainly did not want to leave!  I ate lunch with a few young people who were interning with Christine Quinn because they wanted to be advocates for social justice.  So cool.  And once again, negative stereotypes of PRIDE parades were proven wrong – instead crowds of loving and supportive people, in jeans and t-shirts nonetheless, celebrating equality and supporting their forward, fair-minded politicians. 

with my Queens PRIDE drivers
Tony Avella, Co-Grand Marsal, NY State Senator
Tom Duane, NY State Senator

What we have to remember is that the Pride parade is one day, and Pride month is one month, June, but we must celebrate people all day and every day.  This year’s Pride month in New York was especially energetic because of the momentum in the fight for Marriage Equality.  Unfortunately, I was not able to march in the NYC Pride Parade because I was a surprise guest at Miss North Carolina, but I’m pretty sure I could hear the celebration, the day after Marriage Equality was passed in New York State!! Now that is something to celebrate with huge PRIDE, excitement and love!

I did experience a first at this parade though that I have to share.  So I’m sitting up on the back of a white Mustang convertible  - very nice – ready to start the parade when the car behind us dies.  So with me still on the top we pull forward, reverse back, wind around the car and then proceed to jump the car with cables.  In case you weren’t picturing it funny enough in your mind, here’s a look.  What an experience – one every pageant girl must have.  ;-)

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