PHOTOGRAPHY BY ERIC STEVENS AND GAYLETTER
Pride Pals 2018
Be proud, CELEBRATE!
Every year June rolls around and rainbows unravel from flag posts. What is now recognized as the LGBTQ+ flag was created by Gilbert Baker for San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day in 1978, and the eight colors selected — symbolizing sex, life, healing, sunlight, nature, art, serenity, and spirit — have become beacons of hope, and prosperity even, for LGBTQ+ identifying people in areas around the globe where the community is still terrifically repressed.
The U.S., no stranger to consumerism, has been using the flag and Pride month in general as a way to garner more publicity, promoting world-wide tolerance and donating parts of sales to various LGBTQ+ charities. When brands began to reveal their various Pride collections and capsule campaigns, we felt it necessary to place the Rainbow-centric pieces where they most belong — on our LGBTQ+ family, just like we did last year.
Because the history of the LGBTQ+ community also plays a major role in our queer-future, we took our cast to the many LGBTQ+ landmarks around New York City. From the Christopher Street Piers, to the East Village’s long-withstanding dive Boiler Room, our pride pals buddied up in the streets, leaving nothing inside the closet, and celebrated with each other. Proud as can be.
Now a National Historic Landmark, The Stonewall Inn is the birthplace of the modern day LGBTQ+ rights movement. In 1969, police raids at gay bars were as common as today’s tank tops. On June 28th, 1969, having been fed up with law enforcement routinely discriminating against gay bars, folks like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera fought back. Some with a brick, nonetheless. Now known as the Stonewall Riots, this inciting moment still ripples through the community today as we continue to fight for total equality in an ongoing age of mass prejudice.
Most LGBTQ+ identifying tourists will traverse to the Village just to visit Stonewall. During our production, Lilly Valore was busy posing for her own shot. “I wish I had a brick,” she said. Luckily for her, we had one readily available. “This history of Stonewall means so much to me,” she said. “I am a true believer that the Stonewall Riots play a very important role in our community’s history and that we always should refer to history as a source to continue to find where we need to go as a community.”
Right across from the Stonewall Inn is the Christopher Street Park. Featuring several sculptures by George Segal (1924-2000), the park commemorates the historic events that took place at the landmark bar. It was within the park that the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement began.
After we asked Kostis Fokas and a few other artists to create their own interpretation of the pride flag, we knew Fokas’ triumphant image would grace our cover again. In collaboration with Print All Over Me, GAYLETTER Issue 7 has been turned into a range of pieces that are perfect for Pride. Abdier wears GAYLETTER x PAOM collection blanket. Jesse James wears GAYLETTER x PAOM t-shirt and shorts.
Situated right beside Stonewall, Duplex, a bi-level gay bar, hosts more campy style piano sing-alongs and drag revues. Think Broadway-level performance but without the ticket lines or major dent in your wallet. Originally opened in the ’50s, Duplex moved across the street in the ’80s and has seen talent like the late Joan Rivers and Woody Allen test material inside their doors. Jesse wears shoes by Converse.
In light of recent gun violence throughout the United States, Gays Against Guns (GAG) —an inclusive, direct action group of LGBTQ people and allies committed to non-violently breaking the gun industry’s chain of death—has seen a resurgence in participation. Meetings are held every other Thursday at NYC’s LGBT Center. All who want to fight for better gun laws are welcome. Here, Sam wears one of their now ubiquitous logo t-shirts, cropped for extra oompf, along with a trucker jacket and jeans by Levi’s. Briefs by Calvin Klein.
Hao wears his own red t-shirt. If you are unsure of what to wear for Pride, simply pick a color of the flag that suits you. After all, each stripe has a certain meaning. Match your solid top with a bottom of the same color. You’d be surprised how powerful a full solid color look could be.
Famous for creating murals (among other activist artwork) at the now demolished West Side Piers, the late David Wojnarowicz has become a leading figure in the history of AIDS and art. Then a major cruising spot for homosexuals, the Piers were a hotbed for sex, drugs and arrest during the late 1970s and 1980s. Here, Mickey wears Loewe‘s limited edition David Wojnarowicz t-shirt by the brand’s creative director Jonathan Anderson. A part of the proceeds benefit Visual AIDS. Shorts by American Apparel and shoes by Converse.
Christelle wears one piece bathing suit from GAYLETTER x PAOM collection.
In Nazi Germany homosexual men sent to concentration camps were marked by a downward facing pink triangle. The symbol, barbered into Cyler‘s hair, was popularized in the 1980s by ACT-UP and has been reclaimed by the community as a symbol in the fight for equality. It’s also synonymous with LGBTQ+ activism and strength.
The Cock closed down in 2005 after residing famously for seven years on Avenue A. Once frequented by gay big-wigs like Boy George and George Michael, the Cock was one of the last gay bars in New York City to be raided often during the anti-nightlife Giuliani era. In 2000 it would seem the city had won, with the bar temporarily closing, but it lasted five more years, then closed down and reopened again on 2nd Ave. a few years later. Still a go-to for afterhours activities, the Cock represents the history of gay parlor rooms and sexuality as advocacy. Cyler wears heels by Syro and socks by Ozone Socks. Work, bitch!
In efforts to reconfigure stereotypes and liberate femme expression, Syro makes heels designed exclusively for men.
Cyler wears shorts by Rufskin.
The New York City AIDS Memorial Park at St. Vincent’s Triangle is the first major space in the city dedicated to the AIDS crisis. The park and its memorial installation border the former St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center, the hospital which housed New York’s first and largest AIDS ward. Here, Nicole Tassels wears Miley Cyrus’ Happy Hippie Foundation collaboration with Converse with all proceeds supporting LGBTQ+ youth and homeless youth.
Once the parade has finished, choose your favorite NYC park, grab your pals and crash! Nothing better than cool grass after a long day spent celebrating your excellence. Clockwise from top left: Steven and Andy wear Converse x Miley Cyrus Unisex track pants. Alexis wears cut-off shorts by Levi’s, shoes by Under Armour. Ryan wears Pride Crop Tank Top, leggings and sneakers by Adidas.
Converse’s Pride Collection designed by Miley Cyrus celebrates those who advocate for a tomorrow where youth are free to be their authentic self. Clockwise from left: Eileen wears Converse x Pride Pullover. Andy wears Unisex Track Pants and shoes by Converse. Nicole Tassels wears Chuck Taylor All Star Platform by Converse. Steven wears Unisex Track Pants and shoes by Converse.
Pieces is another one of New York’s oldest gay bars. It’s cheeky decor (christmas lights, tinsel, a disco ball) screams camp. With weeknight drag-shows and ever-popular Thursday night Karaoke, Pieces represents the most pure form of gay bar fun; drag queens, sing-a-longs, and making a fool of yourself on stage while the room smiles back at you. Alexis wears shorts by Levi’s.
Jalen wears “Freedom” swim trunks by Rufskin.
The Bureau of General Services — Queer Division, housed inside of New York City’s LGBT Center is an independent, all volunteer based queer cultural center, book store and event space. They carry LGBTQ+ literature classics as well as the best of LGBTQ indie-print. Check their website for openings and events, which happen weekly year round. Here, before one of their wonderfully curated shelves, Ryan wears Pride Crop Top Tank by Adidas.
Andy and Steven can help you with their recommendations. Not just for books, but hair-dye too. Both went away from their natural roots and did something a bit more adventurous, using Manic Panic.
Butch queen. Femme queen. Daddy. Gay men have long used countless names to classify the bodies which make up the community. Ash, a popular dancer around New York, wears “Butch Please” t-shirt by Tom of Finland x Lockwood51. Magnum Sneakers by Eytys x Tom of Finland.
Suns out buns out. Abdier wears trunks by Rufskin, socks by Adidas and shoes by Converse.
The East Village has been a hot-bed for gay nightlife since Alphabet City was a no man’s land. Boiler Room, located on 4th St. is a classic gay dive bar that features a pool table, a jukebox, and a very old sign. Previously notorious for it’s straight-acting atmosphere, Boiler Room has stood the test of time by offering a pay-no-mind kind of atmosphere. It’s most certainly low-key, and beers are cheap! Cyler wears tank by Levi’s.
Despite the relevancy of it’s name, Gay St. in Greenwich Village is not named for the neighborhood’s sexual characteristics. Sitting small between Christopher St. and Waverly Place, Gay St. is believed to be named after a family (named Gay) who owned land there during the Colonial Era. That said, it still makes for the cheekiest of photos. Jalen wears mesh tank and trunks by Rufskin. Shoes by Converse.
Since the 1980’s the Christopher Street Pier has been a well-known cruising ground, particularly for gay men. The pier played an integral role in the queer history of New York City, especially for queer youth who’ve challenged racist and homophobic curfew legislation imposed in the area. The now gentrified pier was made famous in Jenny Livingston’s Paris Is Burning, which chronicled the lives of vogue performers and houses in the 1980’s ball scene. Now equipped with shade-structures, a nearby food court and sprinklers, the Christopher Street Pier continues to be a fabulous meeting place for queers to congregate for picnics, or exercise, or simply enjoy the sun. Jeans by Levi’s.
After news broke that massive sweeps targeting homosexuals in Chechnya was happening Voices4Chechnya — a newer LGBTQ+ centered advocacy group – formed. Their mission is not to give voices to anyone, but rather amplify the voices more typically repressed or silenced from the more marginalized parts of the LGBTQ+ community. Ricky, a Voices4 member, wears their logo t-shirt. Activism has a long history in the LGBTQ+ community, and Voices4 joins the rich lineage fighting for world-wide change. Sam wears shoes by Converse.
Color is key. Lucas was more than willing to dye their hair red (using Manic Panic) for Pride. Hao also happened to be going violet the very same weekend. All clothing from Adidas Pride pack, socks by Ozone Socks.
The sexual charisma of the Piers still lingers. When summer arrives in the city you’ll be sure to find men showing some skin. They tan, they do push ups… and perhaps they’ll pick you up! Afternoon delight, anyone?
Crouton was more than happy to show his pride at the Piers!
Didn’t we say there was hot guys at the piers? Lucas wears briefs by Perry Ellis, trucker jacket by Levi’s. Socks by Ozone Socks. Mickey wears shorts by American Apparel and shoes by Converse.
Like most queers during pride, Crouton is hard to get ahold of. Jesse wears shoes by Converse. Hao wears shorts and shoes by Adidas.
It’s chill! Christelle, Mickey and Jesse lounge with Crouton on the GAYLETTER x PAOM blanket.
Luca knows one thing is for sure, the future is most certainly super-gay. T-shirt by Supergay.
Less can be more. Accessorize your basics with pins, or patches. Here, Alexis wears hat from American Apparel with a pink triangle pin. If you’re going to keep it simple, at least have it say something impactful! You can get one like this, or anything else pride related online or inside the right shops. Briefs by Perry Ellis, shorts by Levi’s.
The LGBT Center, located in the West Village, offers health and wellness resources and information to the LGBTQ+ community of New York City. The services offered by the Center encompass youth support to family planning and HIV/AIDS resources, as well as community-based arts and culture. It serves a rich focal point for LGBTQ+ people, and it’s very easy to find friendly faces in the neighborhood. Here, Alexis found Robert — a member of G.A.G. proudly sporting his t-shirt.
Known to be the oldest still-operating gay bar in New York City, Julius’ has been a West Village staple since the 1960’s, though it wasn’t won without a fight. In 1966 the bar’s regulars, mostly gay men, staged a sip-in, challenging New York State liquor regulations that discriminated against homosexual establishments. The success of the sip-in would open up future possibility for gay bars to obtain licenses to sell liquor. Alas, legal gay bars were born. Situated a block west of Stonewall, Julius’ (which sits in a colonial tenement from 1867) was a favorite of gay-greats such as Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and Rudolf Nureyev. It has since become a staple of the West Village gay bar scene, with it’s daily patrons some of the same men who have been drinking there since the sip-in.
Here, River wears “Blood is Blood” tee by Mother in New York. “This shirt is printed with the blood of gay men.” Designed to confront the U.S.’s discriminatory regulations which bars gay, bisexual or transgender people from donating blood to the FDA. Mother in New York teamed up with artist Stuart Semple to repurpose rejected blood. Collected from Mother gay male employees, the agency partnered with Callen-Lorde to spread awareness about the large quantity of blood the FDA rejects annually by not accepting gay, bisexual or transgender blood. According to a study by the Williams Institute, if the FDA lifted their current ban, an estimated 615,300 additional pints of blood could be donated every year.
Pride only comes once a year, but don’t fret. The future is ours! Happy Pride!