I had the opportunity several years ago to drink a beer at the historic Stonewall Inn, an inconspicuous bar of red brick and glowing-red neon tucked comfortably away in New York’s Greenwich Village.
I remember making out with my boyfriend-at-the-time, and an older straight couple sitting nearby suddenly snapped their heads in our direction. Their faces were wrinkled in disgust,like crumpled-up rags with narrow, angry eyes. They loudly shoved their stools out from under them and left the lounge, shaking their heads in revulsion.
We laughed at the thought of homophobic miscreants mindlessly stumbling into one of the most iconic gay bars in America — the birthplace of Pride — only to get butt hurt seeing two guys swapping slobber. I guess ignorance isn’t always bliss.
We made out some more and then headed upstairs where Tony-Award-winning Liza Minnelli was performing that night. Okay, so not the actual Liza, but a spectacular performer working a small stage who f*cking nailed it that night as Liza. (She was truly the Queen Supreme of the evening.)
It was there that we met a host of locals and a few other tourists, many of us singing and swinging our bodies to Liza’s phenomenal performance.
The night peaked when Liza dragged a few people from the small crowd onto the stage, including myself, where we participated in a fake-orgy contest. Each contestant did his or her best to replicate that moment of pure ecstasy where the world melts away and the rational mind prostrates itself before pure euphoria (if only for a few seconds).
Sally Albright from When Harry Met Sally would have been so proud of me, as I ended up on my back using the microphone as a… prop for my performance. I won that contest and got a free drink at the bar.
I couldn’t have asked for a better night at the historic Stonewall Inn.
That evening was packed with joyful memories and shared experiences I’ll always keep stored in a special place in my heart. It was truly a wonderful, magical night drinking with all the other “freaks” who are looked down upon by those homophobic miscreants.
We were the hated, healing our hearts from scars left by jagged judgments, stitching up wounds carved out by ignorant comments and emotional violence — those cruelties still lingering just outside the red-brick walls, waiting patiently to hate again.
Pride was born as a risqué respite for the heretic in us all. Pride is a chance to live like Dionysius, drinking wine and indulging in ecstasies of all varieties. Pride is an opportunity to dismantle social norms and shed the rational self.
Use PrideFest to foster your own joyful memories and shared experiences. Build your own wall of stone where you can heal the heart, that resilient muscle which has endured too many hardships, yet still beats resolute beneath a fragile frame.
Be lascivious. Be safe. Be Liza at the Stonewall Inn and sing!