A week from today I arrive in New York City around Noon Eastern time and will spend a total of 17 nights there. This will be my 2nd longest trip ever, with the first two Europe trips in 2013 and 2014 both coming in at 18 nights. The big difference here: just one round trip plane ticket. I’ve never stayed in one place this long, and am excited that my first extended stay will be NYC.
This time of year is probably not the best time to do that from a weather perspective, but I didn’t really have a choice in that. Because the thing that got me to New York in the first place is the Gay & Sober Men’s Conference: 500 gay and sober guys gathering in Times Square in the final days of NYC’s Pride celebration, which is special this year as the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.
I would normally run screaming at the thought of attending an event like this. For one, I’m not big on crowds, and have never been a big conference goer, even in the recovery community. And as many who know me well know, I would typically say I’m “not gay enough” for an event like this. But there was something about it that seems right. That all of these men will be sober is really the point for me, that’s hugely attractive. And a chance to participate in a little bit of history: the conference has a spot in the parade, so if I choose I can march in it for the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. As unlike me as it would be to do that, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna because it feels like a big deal.
As I’ve shared this with friends, I’ve been frankly very surprised how many of them who are not gay did not know what Stonewall was. You can follow that link if you want to learn more, but the short version is this: the Stonewall Riots occurred in June, 1969, when the police raided a little bar in Greenwich Village for the sole purpose of hauling the folks who gathered there to jail. Why? Because they could. But not that night. That night those folks – many of them transgendered people of color – fought back, which lead to what is considered the birth of the LGBT civil rights movement in the US. This is why Pride events all over the world are mostly centered around the month of June.
So the 50th anniversary is a big deal, especially as here lately so many things in this country seem like they’re going backwards. I keep reading these articles about various groups protesting LGBT things, sponsoring “straight pride” events, etc., and it makes me a little sick frankly. I was sharing with someone a few weeks ago that, at 14, I vividly remember the assassination of Harvey Milk. (Follow the link or watch the movie if you don’t know who that is!) And my reaction at the time was: see, that’s what happens if you come out – they kill you. Perhaps the overreaction of a sensitive teenager, but that along with regular bullying and many other things that happened growing up is all part of what kept me in the closet until I was 35. So, as has been said by others, rather than wanting a “straight pride” parade, these folks should be grateful they don’t need one. I don’t know of anyone who ever got killed for being straight. So yes, marching in the 50th anniversary NYC Pride Parade will be a big deal.
The conference starts on 6/27 and runs through 6/30 when the parade is. For that period, I will be staying at the conference hotel, which is the Westin Times Square. My original plan was to go to Europe again after that, but that hotel ain’t cheap even at a conference rate and it took a hunk of my travel budget. I’ve always wanted to spend a bunch of time in NYC so I figured now is as good a time as any. I found an AirBnB in Jersey City for a very reasonable rate and will stay there from 7/1 – 7/13.
I’ve got some touristy things planned that I still haven’t done (Statue of Liberty, The Metropolitan), plus tickets for 6 Broadway shows: Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Cursed Child, Puffs, Wicked, Book of Mormon. Will probably work in one or two more while I’m there. When in Rome and all that, right? And a bunch of borough wandering, planning on hitting Brooklyn and Queens for sure, and probably the Bronx and Yonkers as well.
So that’s the plan. It might not be as glamorous as Europe but I’m betting it’s going to be fun. If you come along, I’ll see you out there.