For all of America’s faults, one of my favorite things about America is the fact that Pride month started here. Now, several countries around the world celebrate it.
I was staying in New York at the end of Pride month and since I was in Chelsea, a part of town known for being a home to a LGBTQ+ community in this country, I was eager to witness my first ever Pride parade. The streets were packed, people were sitting on top of scaffolding or out of their windows watching the parade floats go by. You had to shuffle down the sidewalk, pressed against countless other sweaty bodies which feels like a personal, post-COVID hell unless you’re into that sort of thing. For the first time in my life I was able to witness the joy, the celebration, and the protest as it unfolded around me.
My mother and I spent the morning weaving our way through hundreds of rainbow-clad people, then weaved our way through a bunch more people that afternoon in the MoMA. We spent the afternoon looking at paintings which meant more Klimt, Van Gogh, Matisse, and Picasso.
There were so many new things to see, as well as all of the things that I’ve seen previously. I returned to the fifth floor to see Starry Night by Van Gogh again in very much a been-there-done-that fashion. As it turns out, I still love it. Starry Night is still a blissful painting of a cool blue sky with a dizzying pattern and deep golden stars.
After the MoMA, we went to Central Park where we laid on our backs in the grass and admired a different blue sky. There was a lot to take in, as there is on any given day at Central Park. Dog walkers were curbing their dogs, or not curbing their dogs, as it were; young girls were taking an insufferable amount of pictures of themselves, but no judgment.
Through the park, we headed to Strawberry fields, where there is always a guy with a guitar singing either a John Lennon or Beatles song, although, strangely, never “Strawberry Fields.” If you are lucky he actually knows how to sing. There also is always droves of tourists being marshaled onto the spot so that they can stand in the circle and take turns taking pictures. That’s how I was first introduced to Strawberry Fields: a kid in a tour group, wearing matching, crawl-into-a-hole-and-die-because-I-want-no-one-to-see-me-in-this uniform with the other students, while a guy with a lightsaber ushered us through the crowd.
The experience had left an impression on me, so I’ve always wanted to come back to the spot, preferably when no one is swarming around it. This time there were masses of students visiting from another country, shuffling in for a photo in waves, while two guys sort of sang a Beatles Duet. It was just another day at Strawberry Fields, where nothing is real. Nearby, there were anti-mask and anti-vax protests with actual tables set up. Supposedly they hadn’t gotten the memo that, when at Strawberry Fields, there is nothing to get hung about.
By the end of the day, I’d seen Strawberry Fields and Starry Night, two pop culture forces of nature. I’d seen several things that I’d seen many times before, MoMA, Central Park, and Strawberry Fields, and one thing that I’d never seen before, a massive, unbridled Pride Parade.
It’s all in a day’s work when on a trip to New York City.
The Tragic Queen,