By Jhon Sánchez
We left Sheridan Square, walking by the iconic Stonewall Inn, and with the spirit that inspired the protests fifty years ago, we marched with Pride. Each step, chant and poster was a bill that claimed for such causes as the rights of the sexual minorities in Africa, universal healthcare, or the elimination gun violence. Many held posters denouncing the death of Layleen Polanco, the young transgender lady found dead in Rikers Island.
I talked to politicians, priests, and with the Argentinian man who first married another man in his country, Jose Maria Di Bello. This was ‘The Queer Liberation March and Rally’ that for many was ‘The Alternative Parade.’ A man wearing a dress representing Las Vegas was telling me why he came to this march instead of going to the NYC World Pride when I heard the “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It was a chorus that followed Guys Against Guns. People joined the group to sing, and I said to Las Vegas Man, “Singing and listening to songs are among the many pleasures of life.”
The choir director was a man with a colorful beard who talked to me.
“I am Mark Leydorf, an activist-organizer with Sing Out Louise! and Gays Against Guns.
I started SOL, a protest choir, in the wake of Trump’s election in 2016. We basically get tired of sitting at home and screaming at the television, so we take our “resistance queertet” into the streets to energize and amuse people. Our message is that nothing going on right now is normal — the only thing that should be normal is protesting. It might as well be fun!
GAG was founded the day after the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. We are channeling the spirit of ACTUP and QueerNation — where a lot of us cut our activist teeth — to bring a more in-your-face message to gun violence prevention. We want to break the gun lobby’s chain of death, the sick marriage of Murder Inc. and Washington DC. NRA sashay away!”
Mark’s choir made me wonder if we really could hear just voices in the gay parade instead of the loud speakers, the disc jockeys and the shuffling crowds. That’s why the Queer Liberation March makes sense and as Dennis Redmond from The Humanist Movement said, “I’m here today to honor the original spirit of the march, which was one of resistance to oppression, to conformity, and to what most people considered ‘normal.’ It’s great to see how many of the groups here are speaking out for some of today’s most marginalized people, like immigrants and trans people.”
It’s beautiful to see so many people together, many countries, many groups celebrating Pride. It’s beautiful to see the decorated floats, the costumes, and the sculptural bodies vibrating with the music. But sometimes, we need to stop all of that, dry the sweat of fun and ‘hear’ the Rainbow.
Mark, it was nice to hear from you!
About the Author
Jhon Sánchez: A native of Colombia, Mr. Sánchez arrived in the United States seeking political asylum. Currently, a New York attorney, he’s a JD/MFA graduate. His most recent short stories are Pleasurable Death available on The Meadow, The I-V Therapy Coffee Shop of the 21st Century available on Bewildering Stories and “‘My Love, Ana,’—Tommy” available on https://www.fictionontheweb.co.uk/ . On July 1st, The Write Launch released his novelette The DeDramafi, which will be also reprinted by Storylandia in 2021. He was awarded the Horned Dorset Colony for 2018 and the Byrdcliffe Artist Residence Program for 2019.