Free people from all over the world descended on New York City for the first-ever WorldPride celebration to be held in the U.S. marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
Here’s how our 30-something New York writer John Russell survived the magic and mayhem.
Friday, June 28
The visiting gays have definitely arrived. They’re on the subway, even in Bed-Stuy; taking pictures in Rockefeller Center.
8:20 pm: My friend Skip and I grab a drink at Indochine before heading across the street to Joe’s Pub for Justin Vivian Bond’s show, “Gay for the Gods.” Fans of Pose will be happy to know that stunning trans women of color with an air of purposeful hauteur are still the gatekeepers to this downtown institution—though their standards for entry seem to have mellowed significantly.
9 pm: In the bathroom at Joe’s Pub, I pull a red lip liner out of my clutch and draw a Vivienne Westwood-esque outline around my entire eye. I feel like making a bold statement tonight. On the way out, Jake Shears clocks me. I turn to look as we pass each other, and I’m pretty sure he did the same.
Justin Vivian Bond, wearing a massive platinum wig in v’s persona as our Auntie Glam, starts the show off with “Get This Party Started” in the style of Shirley Bassey. It’s a disco-heavy set, which also includes a lovely acoustic version of Erasure’s “A Little Respect,” and a V’s thoughts on the corporate Pride campaigns. V on Chase bank: “That’s not a safe space for queer people. Do you think a black transwoman can go into Chase bank and get a loan?”
Yas! Right on! I think, as I asked the waitress for our check, which I paid the check with my Chase Amazon Prime card.
11:19pm: Love Above All Ball at Rainbow Room. Shangela is doing a little cabaret set when Skip and I arrive. He’s super excited about her. We find our friends at BD Wong’s table in the adjacent Bar SixtyFive and start our epic attempt to drink all of the champagne in 30 Rock.
My friend Brick and his husband meet Cynthia Germanotta (a.k.a. Lady Gaga’s mom) and are already texting with her. Despite this, no one can seem to explain to me what exactly the Born This Way Foundation actually does.
We catch Betty Who’s performance but somehow manage to miss Marina (without the Diamonds). I keep seeing blond women and thinking they’re Jane Krakowski, but none of them are. I spot a guy who looks like Louis Virtel and it is. “Louis Virtel!” I shout over the music. “I like your work!”
“I do a lot of it,” he says.
We hit the dance floor with Kate Walsh who is wearing a dress with angel wings sprouting from the shoulders, and later there’s a sing-along around the piano in Bar SixtyFive. I introduce Skip to Shangela and then manage to lose track of him. It turns out, he met a nice, handsome, slightly older gentleman and they disappeared into the bathroom.