Never does New York City's annual Pride March fall shy of spectacular, but here's what the 2 million spectators who packed sidewalks, climbed light poles, and stood tip-toed atop garbage cans saw in 2016: some 30,000 marchers from a record-breaking 480 groups, pouring through the middle of Manhattan in a blitz of rainbow flags, bared skin, and joyous dance.
The spirit of Pride here, in America's oldest celebration, is one of radical inclusion. Anyone is welcome to come as they are -- or, for some, as they love to be. The doyens of this day are the drag queens, some of whom rue the lengths they go to. As a man in 6in heels told the New York Times: "I walked 40 blocks in heels. Feminism, man." He was changing into sandals.
Pride is often a gateway for first-time drag queens wanting to celebrate and "get in heels and lip sync to Britney," said Queens-based drag queen Sutton Lee Seymour.
Kyler Puckett, another New York City-based drag queen who performs with the name Heidi Haux, was forever changed by moving to New York at 18, on Pride Weekend. "I was still closeted," he said. "The overwhelming support and sheer quantity of pro-gay anything blew my mind."