This past weekend, the avenues and streets of New York served as the main venue for an historic celebration, one long in the making. Beginning late Friday night when the New York Senate passed new legislation allowing for same-sex marriage in the state, in a dramatic 33 to 29 vote, through Sunday's Pride march down Fifth Avenue and the street party that followed, freedom-loving New Yorkers commemorated the occasion with an abundant measure of open and expressive joy. The Stonewall Inn at 53 Christopher Street in the Village, the site of the 1969 uprising, became a central point of interest, but revelers at Sunday's march - estimated at 2 million, according to event organizers, up from the usual 1.5 million at the annual event - dispersed throughout the West Village and beyond. It was easy to make fast friends out on the streets. There were many hugs and kisses to go around. The weather was close to rainbow-like, too.
Wedding veils were the most popular fashion accessory along Fifth Avenue this Sunday, yet it's taken many years to get this far down this aisle. (Actual ceremonies may begin at the end of July.) On the judge's stage at Fifth and 8th Street, the hard-working D.I.V.A.s (Drag Initiative to Vanquish AIDS), a funny troupe of edutainers who served as announcers for the event, reminded the spectators that the walk down Fifth Avenue, while more festive than your average parade, must still be called a march, a determined walk to demonstrate political power and will.
The power of politics showed strongly this year, especially in the way the crowd loudly cheered Governor Andrew Cuomo as he marched down the avenue. The governor had made the legislation a focused priority, requiring a tremendous amount of leadership and strategy to pull off. Mayor Bloomberg, too, had fought hard for the bill, articulating the likely positive economic impact of the bill's passage for the city and state. (Read the fascinating behind-the-scenes account of finding the necessary votes in The New York Times.)
After the march concluded near Christopher and Greenwich Streets, Greenwich Village was more than ready to serve as the metaphorical stage for rainbow's end.
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from Sunday, June 26, 2011. More photos in this set on Flickr WOTBA.