Harlem held its inaugural official LGBT Pride block party yesterday on West 119th Street, and tourists, drag queens, and even a state senator showed up. A lovely lesbian couple from Buffalo, in town for today’s larger LGBT Pride Parade, touted the local artist General Touch, whose work was on display. Nearby, Dan and Bill, cute lawyers and boyfriends from San Francisco, rendezvoused with some old Harlem-based friends. A six-inch raised stage hosted a number of short performances: for instance, drag queen Sugga Pie KoKo.
Mingling with Mrs. KoKo was State Senator Bill Perkins, a Democrat who reps Harlem and the Upper West Side, and he was awesomely enthusiastic about the event, which garnered a decent, if initially lacking, turnout: “It’s nice to see [many young gay Harlem residents here], because it means that the movement for recognition is growing to such an extent that young people are not in the closet about their sexuality, and who they are. To see them out here, dancing and being whoever they are and feeling loved and feeling beautiful is very important,” he told us. “Too often this community is marginalized … in the dark unseen places that segregate them not only physically, but emotionally, politically, and so forth. For them to be in the heart of the neighborhood, a neighborhood of brownstones, a neighborhood where there’s a church, means that they are a part of the fabric of the neighborhood. They’re here, not over by the edge in some Hudson place that nobody goes to. It’s very powerful.”