As I celebrated Gay Pride this past weekend with family and friends, I couldn't help but notice a completely different feeling in the air compared to prior Pride weekends. While the festivities started last week and ran all weekend, it's the Sunday parade that best captures the prevailing spirit so I really enjoy that day the best.
Of course the best part of the day, at least for me, is reading all the slogans on t-shirts, buttons, and stickers. Not only are they cleverly written, they always capture people's sentiments and what they want to fight for.
This year was vastly different. The slogans felt more victorious than in years past. Through the years we've seen messages about "Equality" and "My Bedroom, My Business." The fight for equal rights, employee benefits, anti-discrimination, and gay marriage dominated the messaging.
This year a lot of that was gone. I saw "Gay. OK." and "Let It Go" much more frequently than anything else. Of course the most prominent was "Just Married," which made me smile every single time. The most common "jewelry" was a colorful beaded necklace with a circle rainbow flag in the middle with no slogan at all. It was from TD Bank.
My absolute favorite was the t-shirt saying "Love Conquers Hate" with the "Hate" almost completely erased so that you could barely read it. Fabulous.
I also couldn't get over the number of brands marching in the parade. Unbelievable. From Google to Macy's to American Express to HSBC to Shutterstock. Back in the day it was rather uncommon to see a mainstream brand other than Orbitz or a vodka. Now it seems almost mandatory to be marching, especially if you care about your employees. These employees were marching proud; heads held high that their companies support them. I was proud to see them all there.
Have we turned the corner? Is this the year we are victorious?
I am not sure we can claim that quite yet, but there was a clear sense of victory in the air, and I couldn't be prouder. The streets were filled not just with gay people, but with human beings from all walks of life, every flavor in between and from every vantage point to celebrate Pride. As well they should. If it is a victory, then it's a victory for us all.