I have never been to a Pride event or parade, and I knew that my first one, especially in New York City, would be an unforgettable experience. There is nothing else like the diversity and general energy among the participants that attend the march. Although I wanted to witness the parade and see my fellow National Park Service members march for the first time in history, educating Pride parade participants in the West Village about the National Parks of New York Harbor was just as fulfilling.
Almost everyone who passed our table wanted to learn more about what the National Parks of New York Harbor had to offer. We spoke to someone at least every minute from 11:00 am until 4:30 pm. Most of the people we spoke to were interested in getting out of New York City, looking for a place to camp, or just curious to hear our spiel. The surprise on everyone’s faces when they learned that you could actually camp within the boroughs of New York City never got old.
The commencement of Stonewall as a National Monument could not have been better timing for the Pride Parade weekend. We were lucky enough to speak with a few people who were there at the riot and the following days after back in 1969. They were so enthusiastic and willing to share their experiences and explain why Stonewall was significant to them. Each story was different and there were no two people alike.
The commencement ceremony on Monday afternoon was the perfect end to a very special weekend. National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, and many others all spoke about the significance of this event and highlighted the history of the LGBT civil rights struggle following the Stonewall riots. It was truly an honor to witness this milestone in the history of the United States, and I am proud to be a part of the National Park Service, which strives to become more and more inclusive in the years to come.