Betty Who performs at the Love Above All Ball
Betty Who performs at the Love Above All Ball (Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Pride is back…sort of. Mostly? It’s hard to say what it’s going to be like this year. New York is well on the way to fully reopening after more than a year of COVID restrictions kept most of us housebound and isolated. But while in-person LGBTQ+ parties, celebrations and actions are happening—and selling out fast if my group texts are any indication—NYC Pride’s official events remain mostly virtual for the second year in a row. This weird, transitional, hybrid Pride season has me thinking back on Pride 2019, the last one before the pandemic—which also happened to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. That year, I kept a diary of all the nonsense my friends and I got up to during what, in the two years since, I’ve come to think of as The Last Pride on Earth. These are those mostly accurate, entirely true diary entries. It all seems like a lifetime ago…

Friday, June 28, 2019
The provincial gays have definitely arrived. All week, I’ve been seeing them on the subway, even in Bed-Stuy, where I assume they’re renting Airbnbs. They’re taking pictures of all the rainbow flags in Rockefeller Center, popping up on Grindr. For some reason, they’re always in pairs. Pride tourism is such a funny thing. During the day, I assume, you do all this kinda basic sightseeing and shopping at H&M and, until this year, Topshop (RIP). And then at night you go out dancing until brunch the next day.

I feel like you can always tell who’s visiting for Pride. They’re the guys who have put together strenuous little outfits consisting of lots of prints and patterns just to walk around the city, because they think that’s what everyone in New York does.

Ugh. I should not think such condescending, judgmental thoughts!

8:20pm: 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.

9pm: 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 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 ask the waitress for our check, which I pay with my Chase Amazon Prime card.

Shangela performs at the Love Above All Ball
Shangela performs at the Love Above All Ball (Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images)

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.

I run into a couple former editors of Next Magazine and it’s like a little reunion. They’re going to the WE! party at the Javits Center tomorrow night where Bette Midler is expected to make an appearance. My friend who works for Bloomberg now is excited to see the sunrise through the big glass ceiling, which sounds kinda cool but also like a literal nightmare to me.

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. 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 gave him a blowjob in the bathroom, while I shared a cab back to Brooklyn with an editor from Interview. We sang Fleetwood Mac songs as we crossed the Williamsburg bridge.

Tomorrow: Grace Jones and inexplicable Pride FOMO!