POV

Shay Pride

So, I graduated college, and decided to move to Brooklyn, which may or may not have been a rash decision.

Story by Shay Neary - ahiddendesire@gmail.com Photos ©Icarus Blake

Shay Neary Watercolor Collection from Dressbarn photo©Icarus Blake

I’m new here in New York. New is an understatement really, because I moved here from Lake Wallenpaupack, PA. The closest city is about an hour away. I’m from a place where there are more trees than people, and where wild animals roam free. It really isn’t that bad, but sometimes I felt like I was living in a parallel universe. Did I mention that I was a plus size transgender woman?

The male gender never really fit my life. I didn’t enjoy anything that men did or looked like, except for the fact I was attracted to them. Women were always fascinating; I used to watch my mom put on her makeup and would be enthralled by the way a woman could change her entire appearance with some powder, liquid, brushes, and time. I love the ability now, to be as creative as I want and as beautiful as I want to become.

So, I graduated college, and decided to move to Brooklyn, which may or may not have been a rash decision. I’m still jobless; living in one of the biggest cities I’ve ever seen in my life. Two weeks after moving here, a new friend, “Lucille Ball”, asked me if I wanted to walk in the NYC Gay Pride Parade. In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy says, “A place where there isn’t any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It’s not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It’s far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain…” Dorothy then starts to sing the famous song Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Little did I know that by the end of the day I would have walked through a rainbow and would have traveled by boat and train.

Shay Neary Necklace is from Charming Charlies, Dress is from Dots photo©Icarus Blake

Sunday, I woke up to a beautifully warm day, a cool breeze, and a house full of gay people. I live with my gay cousin and his awkward partner. Visiting this specific morning, are the gay couple from downstairs and my other heterosexual female cousin. All sitting in my living room eating buttermilk pancakes, apple smoked bacon, Vermont maple syrup, and freshly made hot brewed coffee. This was going on while I was trying to put on a bra, some weaves, and a well-beaten face, running like a flamingo with its neck in a knot. I am glad to say, even over the commotion, I came together wonderfully.

After getting to the J train, then the F train, my perfume was eclipsed by the smell of garbage and dirt from the subway. Finding my way to Madison Ave., I walked out of the subway terminal and the sun was blinding. But looking past the cave, I saw what seemed to be a huge crowd of exotic creatures. I had never seen so many GLBT or GLBT friendly people in my life! Living in a small town has really shaped what I know about gay people… Lesbians wear plaid and denim, and gay men wear cut off shirts and short shorts.

The Internet has changed my perception forever. I can now tell the difference between a bear and an otter, how a cross dresser isn’t a transsexual, and how older men in roller-skates dress in drag for one day of the year; all showing their colors, all proud, vivacious and admirable, in their crazy attire. I used to wonder why individuals felt the need to put it all on display and am still sometimes shocked by the random pair of uncovered glittered breasts and cloth covered meat pockets. Enough to make a vegan say, “Well, god damn!” I understand that we show our sex, we show our orientation, we show our insides on the outside. Not hiding who we are, but opening the closet door to show them the new linens?

Shay Neary Dress is Effortless Collection from Dressbarn photo©Icarus Blake

To me, pride is something eternal. During my first NYC Pride this year, I was only asked to walk with the UDLGBT group from Upper Delaware. I ended up leading their group, twirling a rainbow flag like my life depended on it. I was not only representing my old home, but my new one as well. I was proud and I have pain to prove it with multiple blisters, sore hands, and feet that feel like I walked on thumbtacks. (I couldn’t not wear heels; it would have been a mockery to trans culture) I was, in a word, fierce and broke four flags. They weren’t meant for twirling, but we duct taped the rods and my bleeding hands and marched on. The crowds were the biggest I had ever seen, massing in pools behind silver bars and police officers. It was a carpet full of people with rainbow attire, covering the hot pavement and shouting for their lives. After the parade, my new friends “Lucille Ball” and “Connie Francis” invited me to go on a gay disco cruise that evening, I hesitantly agreed with the feeling that my night was going to be an interesting one.

In the meantime, my phone had died; so typical. I needed to charge it to find my cousin… Well let me tell you, I ask a hostess in a random restaurant if I can get a seat with an outlet near it. It happened to be that the only outlet was in the front of the restaurant, not near a table. Oh my luck! So I begin charging my phone and this restaurant was packed! I was asked if I could step outside because I wasn’t eating. So I’m outside, my phone is charging, and this nice hostess that was helping me is hardcore swarmed. I asked her if she needed some help, and she gladly accepted. I started hosting like no one’s business. I was seating tables, giving people times to be seated, taking names, checking the room for cleared tables. I worked about three hours. How convenient that a transgender girl on pride dressed in drag happened to walk in to charge her dead phone and had some hours to kill.

I finally got to sit down and ate some food and had one of the best milkshakes ever, fresh from the cow. After asking for the check, I was told by my darling crossbreed of a cub and twink homosexual waiter, “Girl! You worked for three hours! What are you talking about? It’s covered. Thanks from us!” Hell, I had walked 30 blocks, worked as a hostess, got a free meal, and now I was going on a cruise. Lions, Tigers, and Bears, OH MY! I had to catch a cab because this girl was not walking the twenty minute drift to the pier. After residing in the lot and finding my strange, celebrity friends, we finally got on the boat. I met their male friends “Archie Bunker” and “John Charles Daly”, quite the interesting crew of celebrities. It was filling up quickly with gaggles of rooster farmers waiting for the boat to leave the nest. The boat finally took off and the gays shifted into what I call a “Tray Train”. Similar to a daisy chain, but no holes are filled.

Shay Neary Necklace is from Charming Charlies, Dress is from Dots photo©Icarus Blake

So my new friends and I chatted away a sunset and forged some new bonds. The boat was mostly filled with gay men, fruit flies, and the occasional hot mess of a campy drag queen. It was a great ride around the harbor. I had never seen anything in NY, and I got to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and The Empire State Building, which happened to be lit up in rainbow colors for Gay Pride, so very beautiful. I think it should be a full time installation. The ride ended with a firework display, and me giving an educational lesson on the mechanics and art of firework displays (I have an uncle in the business). We left the boat, got to the dock, and split up. I was starving and had to get to my train. “Connie Francis” and “John Charles Daly” suggested a two-dollar slice in the village. This pizza was AWESOME! We decided to share a yellow street crawler to the station and everyone parted ways.

Gay Pride in NYC is about more than just being GLBT. It’s about family, it’s about fun, and it’s about understanding. It’s about how to find friends in the oddest places, to make connections with individuals you would never talk to on the subway, and to watch a community come together for twenty-four hours of its lifetime. Whether you are accepting of gay people or not (PS You should be). There is a larger than life blanket of people who are just trying to be themselves; weaving strings each day with different threads of souls. I thoroughly enjoyed my first Pride; it was invigorating for my soul. I leave with a quote from my red glittered show sister, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. (after pause) We must be over the rainbow.”

One Response to “Shay Pride”

  1. Ebuuu says:

    Somehow very hopeful and light, life from all different perspectives..thank you. Love the photos.