Gay Pride celebrates demise of DOMA, growing acceptance for LGBTs

Boots Babushka walked the long stretch of Fifth Avenue in her wedge shoes. Photos by Elton Lugay

Boots Babushka walked the long stretch of Fifth Avenue in her wedge shoes. Photos by Elton Lugay

By Elton Lugay

This year’s Gay Pride march on June 30 was especially meaningful. Days earlier, the Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), paving the way for same-sex couples to tie the knot and for those in relationships to avail of federal benefits once exclusive to traditional couples.

Boots Babushka who marched for more than four hours in her thick Giuseppe Zanotti wedges, summed up the feeling of most everyone.

“Today I celebrate freedom, marriage and equality,” said this popular Philippine entertainer known for her impersonation of singer Pilita Corrales.

In between, she would rest on a folding chair she carried throughout the parade and give her feet a break.

Some 300,000 people marched in this year’s Pride on Fifth Avenue. They were joined by revelers from other states and foreign countries, such as Uganda and Russia.

This is the eighth year for Dawn Saladores, who is marching behind the banner of the Filipino American LGBT group BaranGay NY.

“This year I joined because of the ruling,” she said. “It calls me to celebrate that momentous moment. We should be proud and loud!”

Mayor Mike Bloomberg waves at crowd.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg waves at crowd.

Jackie Reyes from Philadelphia called it her “big day.”

“It’s great that DOMA is finally defeated,” said this masteral student in Policy and Communities at Temple University.

She said the next battle for the LGBT community is ENDA or the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. “Hopefully, it will be passed soon.”

“I am part of the trans community. I am actually gender queer. I tend to dress more in masculine side than feminine,” she said sharing her story with The FilAm. “I came out to my family about four years ago. They weren’t very accepting even now, they’re still trying.”

She added how “tough” it has been for her mother to have an only child who is gay.

Gracie Mansion was having its own celebration called the Mayor’s Pride Reception. Mayor Michael Bloomberg hosted a barbecue reception for the LGBT community where he pledged his administration’s support for the NYPD’s investigation into rising anti-gay hate crimes.

“It’s great to be here,” he said.

I met Filipino American Derek Reyes at the reception.

Derek Reyes with partner Steven Rank

Derek Reyes with partner Steven Rank

“I am extremely happy with the Supreme Court’s ruling,” said Reyes, who works for the Discovery Times Square museum for Discovery Channel. “I was happy that gay marriage was legalized in New York State last year. I didn’t think it would ever happen in my lifetime, where I
would be able to not only get married in my state but also be recognized federally for me and my partner.”

He and his partner, Steven Rank, have been together for 14 years, after meeting in a bar on Memorial Day.

“For once I feel like there’s going to be a huge wave of change,” he said. “It’s exciting for the youth that are growing up in this environment where there is more acceptance.”

From Gracie Mansion, I checked out Cher’s concert at Pier 26 in Tribeca. She thanked her LGBT fans for sticking it out with her through the years.

“I’ve had my ups and downs in my career, and you guys have never left me,” she said.

The day-long celebration from Fifth Avenue to Gracie Mansion to Tribeca had about 1.5 million people in the city greeting the happy news with friends and loved ones.

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