Defiantly Different, Defiantly Proud!


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Sunday, June 24, 2018

I was eight years old the first time I saw the Pride March(also affectionately known as the Pride Parade). My mom and I had gone for a walk. When I overheard upbeat dance music; I rushed over and saw a bunch of adults in sequence costumes. Excited, I turned to my mom and said, “Look it’s a costume parade for grown-ups!” However, my mom was at a loss for words; unsure how to explain what was transpiring. As soon as I saw two men loving holding hands and supporting their fellow LGBT compatriots for being out & proud- it hit me! I realized what the parade meant.

The positive energy was contagious as I cheered alongside them. It was the early 90’s. Thanks to a PBS medical documentary, I’d learned about HIV/AIDS and the cruelty of homophobia. As I observed the crowd cheering; I felt that it was a golden moment. A moment to live openly; before going back into the closet the next day. After 20 minutes, my mom quietly told me it was time to go home. I wanted to stay. It wouldn’t be until years later that I learned certain parts of the parade aren’t meant to be viewed by young children.  

Of course, times have changed. There have been great strides in LGBT civil rights, including the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015 and creation of the Stonewall National Monument in 2016. There have also been a few steps backward, including the recent Supreme Court’s decision on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission; giving creative professionals the right to refuse service based on religious liberty. It’s moments like these in LGBT history that feels so close yet so far.  Only echoing the cry of frustration, “I didn’t come out of the closet for this shi*t!” There’s also the additional backlash “Why isn’t there a Straight Parade?”Pride is just a big party. This year’s Pride theme, “Defiantly Different” is a call back to Pride’s protest roots.

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One early morning in 1969, police raid the Stonewall Inn; a Greenwich Village bar was a staple of the NYC underground gay community. This time, enough was enough as community members fought back, hence the Stonewall Riots. The Stonewall Riots are considered the birth of the modern LGBT movement.1  Today, both marchers and spectators showcased signs of love & solidarity along with signs of resistance.

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As the NYPD motorcade entered the streets; the four Grand Marshalls, tennis legend, Billie Jean King; LGBT civil rights law firm, Lambda Legal; and activists’ Tyler Ford and Kenita Placide kicked off the 2018 NYC Pride March.

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A yellow truck; with a rainbow banner stating, “NY State Leads The Way”  opened the path for numerous New York local and state politicians. All demonstrating their unwavering commitment to the LGBT community. Riding the rainbow wave was Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, with his wife, First Lady, Chirlane McCray, Senator, Brad Hoylman along with New York City Council and many others.


Cynthia Nixon, actress turned democratic governor candidate, stole the show as she marched and took the time to greet spectators on both sides of the barricade.

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As the sun shined brightly, there where water tables set from the 10-13th street. Volunteers holding trays walked the route handing out cups to kept marchers, press, anyone else who needed hydration. (Thank goodness too. I almost passed out from the heat.)


Pride 2018 adheres to its protest roots, yet, this year, it’s traditional route was changed is to prepare for next year’s massive, month-long World Pride event.2 Along with celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. It’s the first time World Pride will be hosted in the US and more than 3 million people are expected to attend. The Pride March went in the opposite direction starting in Chelsea, looping through the Village; going past the legendary Stonewall Inn, then heading uptown through 5th avenue finishing on 29th street. The NYPD also added extra pedestrian crossings and placed helpful blue flags to mark them.


Pride Fest location was changed this year as well, relocating to University Place. It was a smart move; spectators could watch the march and go to the festival without the hassle of going through multiple pedestrian crossings. I remember Pride Fest 2012; I had to go through an epic maze of barricades throughout the West Village. It felt like an impossible task. (At one point I got trapped on Christopher Street.) The new location is ideal for movement; the drawback, there wasn’t enough space, it became overcrowded very quickly.

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To help marcher with the new route, volunteers held signs from 26-29 street. As FDNY marched to towards 29th street, a few EMT’s smiled and waved me, saying, “Happy Pride!” For a minute, I forgot that I was press, removed my hand from the camera and ecstatically waved back in acknowledgment. They seemed surprised. I think they wanted me to shoot their photo. I goofed, even members of the press needs a moment to celebrate.

Since I first saw the parade, I knew I wanted to be in it. Of course, back then, I had no idea how it was going to happen. When I became a journalist, I’d asked to cover Pride, only realizing that I didn’t have NYPD press credentials.3 I registered to be in March a few times, only to be struck by medical misfortune. In 2017, I finally got my NYPD credentials; yet I had to watch from the sidelines once more; I was in agony from an old injury.

This year I was determined. Yes, I had to go back to physical therapy again, but it was the last straw. I prayed, give me 4-5 good hours to run the route, let me work my journalism magic. I did it! I showed my NYPD Press Credentials; walked through the barricade, then shot the breeze with the top dogs, press photographers from The New York Times, The Advocate, etc. As the action started, I got a piece of advice, “Don’t overthink it, Just dive in!”  That’s what I did; I was out in the sunshine and shooting photos of marchers. I was happy; childhood moment achieved. It was the best day of my life!


published via Samurai Beat Radio

Special Thanks to guest editor Flip Sarta

<1> source:

<2> What is WorldPride? WorldPride is a culturally-diverse expression of the quest for equality and liberty of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people worldwide. It exists to rally the LGBTI communities on a global level, thereby promoting our universal quest for freedom and human rights. (source: InterPride WorldPride committee)

 <3> NYPD Press Credentials are a requirement for the press to cover events that have police or fire lines/restrictions established for security or crowd control; such as parades, protests, emergency or breaking news events.



On January 21, millions gathered around the US to advocate for equality, health care, love, and solidarity for the Women’s March. What originally started as a march on Washington, DC spanned nationwide from New York, Philadelphia, Portland, Austin, Chicago, and Minneapolis, to name a few (there were at least 673 “sister marches” across the county), making it one of the biggest one-day protests in US history.

While this journalist has been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, lately it’s been quite a struggle. This brings up an interesting question, how do you fight injustice when your chronic illness or invisible disability (1) becomes cumbersome?

NY Mag wrote a comprehensive guide for prospective marchers that included information on the Women’s March-DC- Disabilities Caucus and how to receive accommodations. An estimated 45,000 people with disabilities showed up, which the largest assembly of people with disabilities in US history (4). What about those who are unable to attend the Women’s March?
Suffering the Silence developed an ingenious solution, called #MarchingWithMe. In collaboration with the Women’s March, people who were unable to attend sent a photo of themselves and were paired with a marcher. The marcher would wear or carry their picture as a sign of solidarity and to raise awareness for chronic illness and disability rights.

“Suffering the Silence (STS) is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to leveraging the power of art, media, and storytelling to raise awareness around the life experience of people living with chronic illnesses.” What started as a book by Allie Cashel, describing her experience with chronic Lyme disease, has blossomed into a mission to empower others with chronic illnesses, build a community, and transform medical and social perceptions of them.


I was excited to participate, but I’m very camera shy (the irony!). So, I asked Suffering the Silence if there was an alternative and they were kind enough to accommodate. After much debate, I sent in my favorite photo; which was taken by Village Voice photographer, C.S. Muncy when I covered NYCC this year (3). I was cosplaying as Radio Times reporter, Jilian Holtzman, from Ghostbusters (2016). I couldn’t have asked for a better photo and the queer feminist pop culture reference was the icing on the cake.

This isn’t the first time I’ve volunteered for Suffering the Silence. Over the summer, fellow spoonies (2) and I participated in photo-shot for their campaign to help them become an official 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Mission accomplished!


IMAGE: Amanda Crommett

 In addition to taking our photos, we’re asked to pick a quote or mantra that inspired us. I chose, “Suit Up, Again!” from the Toonami promo for the anime series, Gundam Wing. (They loved the reference!) It was a pleasure to work with them, and I was ecstatic to help out again.


IMAGE: Susan1087

I received an email from Marching with Me coordinator, Jacqueline Rasposo. I was paired with my marcher, Susan, who attended the Women’s March in New York. We exchanged social media handles in order to hashtag and share photos to spread awareness. I loved how she ended each email with, “In Solidarity with the Resistance!”

Joining Marching with Me gave me an option to feel included and empowered. Yes, I would have loved to have marched or to have covered the protest in person. Nevertheless, Suffering the Silence gave me a unique opportunity to be a part of a dedicated community striving to make a difference. In journalism, we strive to be objective, yet this was my time to strive to be personal and share my story.

The Gundam Wing quote has deeply resonated with me throughout the various phases of my life. When I developed my invisible illness, it became the mantra I think of every-time, I have to head to the ER. Every time, I have to suit up, again and again, to fight another medical battle. Now, after the Women’s March, I see it with another layer of context. It’s a sign of the times, that in order to protect our rights, we’re all going to have to “Suit Up, Again!”

Dedicated those who “Suit Up, Again” to fight injustice


(1) Chronic illness/invisible illnesses/invisible disabilities: are interchangeable terms to describe illnesses that are often invisible (to most people). The daily feeling of being invisible can be one of the most challenging parts, especially since one can appear healthy and able-bodied. Invisible illnesses can range from asthma, food allergies, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Lyme disease, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, or brain injuries, and also includes mental illness such as G.A.D, PTSD, bipolar, and depression.

(2) Spoonies: A person living with chronic illness who identifies with Christine Miserandino’s Spoon Theory. The Spoon Theory measures a person’s daily abilities much as one would measure the proper amount of spoons needed for an event or occasion, sometimes having an abundance, other times coming up short.


(3) SBR journalists make The Village Voice NYCC 2016 Cosplay List!

(4) Women’s March expected to be the largest gathering of people with disabilities in US history


Suffering the Silence-STS
STS Facebook
STS Twitter
STS Instagram
Women’s March

The resistance continues: 10 Actions / 100 Days

published via GeeksOUT!

The Origins of Ernest and Celestine


March 27, 2014 – By Anita C. Wang and Sara Barton

Every night, Didier Brunner, French film producer of The Triplets of Belleville (2003), would read, Ernest and Celestine, (a popular children book series written and illustrated by Gabrielle Vincent), to his daughter Pauline. Each time the story ended, Didier was left wondering how this mouse and bear met since it’s never explained in the books. In 2008, Didier took matters into his own hands and acquired the rights to Ernest and Celestine, from Gabrielle Vincent’s publisher. Thus, the animated feature film, “Ernest and Celestine”, was created to answer that lingering question.

Once the rights to Ernest and Celestine were secured, Brunner also needed the right talents to make his dream project come true. He personally handpicked all the creative talents to ensure that, Ernest and Celestine would remain true its roots. Its screenplay, adapted by, famous French writer, Daniel Pennac, expands on the world of Ernest and Celestine creating an enchanting backstory.


The story unfolds with perfect pacing showing how the friendship between Celestine and Ernest developed. Raised in a society where it’s frowned upon for bears and mice to socialize with each other. A mouse, Celestine, and a bear, Ernest, are brought together by a unique set of circumstances. Celestine, a budding artist, and Ernest, a street performer, create a bond through shared creativity; forming a strong friendship that lasts a lifetime.


The animation is beautiful and fitting of the original book series, as it showcases the signature watercolor style backgrounds. From start to finish, the movie is a perfect love letter to the book series. It leaves the audience an ending that in fact feels like a new beginning; as Ernest and Celestine pay homage to their creator, Gabrielle Vincent, when they sit down and begin to write their origin story.

Now making its second debut in theaters,  the Oscar-nominated, Ernest and Celestine has been dubbed in English and it sounds flawless. Forrest Whitaker and Mackenzie Foy, give a heartfelt performance, as Ernest and Celestine. Lauren Bacall is perfect and frightening as The Grey One.

What started as a question by Didier Brunner has grown into an animated feature that gives us an answer, which is satisfying as it leaves both children and adults smiling in their seats.

Edited by: Sara Barton