Pride Week 2008 has been a wonderful time for some new experiences for me. On Tuesday, I attended my first invitation to Mayor Bloomberg's Pride Reception at Gracie Mansion. Jason, my perennially sunny friend, had arranged the invites and the weather cooperated spectacularly. There was a large tent set up on the lawn and beyond, bars and barbecue beckoned along the rivers edge. The crowd was a wonderful mix of men and women who work for the City, work for LGBT and related non-profits or just know someone.
I met up with Jason, Suzanne, Jamie and John; bumped into some other folks I knew; listened to the Mayor, the Speaker and Isaac Mizrahi (!) speak; chatted with some non-profit folks; met the NYPD liaison for LGBT Youth; ate some barbecue and generally enjoyed the spirit of pride and community. Then it was off to the Hispanic Institute for a dose of Dia art - but that's another story.
On Thursday, I attended the GLLC Annual Fundraiser at the behest of Andy Tobias, Treasurer of the DNC. At the Waldorf, I found a couple of hundred people I didn't recognize at all. So much for not having been a contributor before. Gradually some friendly faces emerged and the it was time to sit down. The speaker roster was superb - Michelle Patterson (First Lady of NY), Michelle Obama (the next First Lady of the US), Howard Dean (Chair of the Democratic Party), Linda Ketner (Congressional Candidate for South Carolina), another guy called Barack who is the Head of Community Outreach for the DNC and, of course, Andy Tobias.
The issues discussed were a little narrow for my taste, tailored mostly to the audience. A little political pandering goes a long way. I do wonder how we'll be able to get beyond "politics as usual" as long as we keep playing politics as usual. Then again, look who our candidates are this year - change takes time. Here's a link with some good pictures of Michelle Obama speaking - notice the studded leather belt.
I came away fired for the election season ahead, clinging strongly to my wish for real change and the message that will send across the country and into the world. I also came away again proud of my community and grateful for my place in it.