BY SELAH ILUNGA-REED | Deeply rooted in over five decades’ worth of delivering LGBTQ+ visibility, the annual NYC Pride March expands its legacy every time a youthful member of the queer community or passionate straight ally experiences their first time marching down Fifth Avenue or vocalizing their support from the side.
On the last Sunday in June, high school senior and longtime Upper East Side resident Nola Greenberg made the journey Downtown to attend the 2022 Pride March. “This year was my first one, but I plan to continue going,” remarked Greenberg, who said she was astounded by the love on display. Pride celebrations are renowned for the welcoming embrace they offer to all who attend. Being surrounded by that sense of inclusion was, said Greenberg, what stood out most that day. Seeing “strangers support one another on such a large scale,” said Greenberg, was the day’s most powerful takeaway.
Eliza Schwarz, another rising high school senior from Brooklyn, attended her first Pride March this year as well. Schwarz, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, came out in 2020 to her parents by way of a written letter. She emphasized how lucky she is to have supportive and unconditionally loving parents, especially as she explores and discovers her sexuality. Regardless of her openminded parents, Eliza struggled to work up the courage to ask if she could attend the Pride March, especially because in Cleveland such an event was not nearly as large-scale. Eventually, however, she asked her parents to go, and was accompanied by her doting dad.
Asked about her favorite moment at Pride, Schwarz said, “The best moment for me… there wasn’t even… I don’t even think there was a moment, just the experience of being there was so incredible.” Though it was her first experience at NYC Pride, Schwarz felt welcomed by the open arms of the LGBTQ+ community, saying the March was “such an inclusive environment, I felt really safe there.” As much as enjoying the parade with her father was fulfilling, Schwarz expressed a wish for more queer peers, and hopes to go to next year’s Pride celebration with a friend or partner close to her age. She explained the struggle of existing within the relatively rigid social ecosystem of high school, and how that has limited her exposure to other gay teens.
Though these two are prime examples of acceptance and love within and outside of their families, it is of the utmost importance to remember the thousands of young people who might not be receiving the same support in their journeys. The NYC Pride March provides a sense of support and community to all queer New Yorkers and their allies, and gives those without loving families and friends a place to be themselves, fearlessly. This environment is crucial to the safety and happiness of New York’s young gay community.
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