On Friday 24 June 2016, the annual Pride Rally was held on Pier 26 at Hudson River Park. Security was relatively tight with bag checks on entry. Free orange bandanas were distributed to remember the victims of the Orlando Pulse Night Club tragedy. There were some beautiful memorials to those who were killed – including the photos of the victims and the owner of the Pulse Night Club making a speech. As a non-American, it was fascinating and slightly disconcerting that the focus was consistently on “standing with Orlando” but without necessarily a practical focus on how that should happen. Emotional support is amazing, but there were no buckets collecting money, no serious calls on how people could mobilise to strengthen gun control laws, or how to help those who were injured in practical ways. Unfortunately, as too often happens in America, it was if its citizens were going through the motions of sending sympathy and prayers – but without actually doing much that was concrete. The event was relatively small – just a few thousand people. I must confess I didn’t find it empowering, or comforting or useful. It was entertaining – some of the acts were good. Toderick Hall and Bob the Drag Queen put on a good show. The relatively low turnout was disappointing. The lack of clear focus disconcerting and the consistent disconnect between Americans and their political process was pretty obvious – time and time again it’s become clear that Americans don’t really engage in trying to change things – and it’s harder than ever to determine if it’s due to apathy or a sense of powerlessness. Fortunately, I saw another side at the Pride Parade which I’ll cover in a future post….

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