The march was long – more than 2 hours. It was amazing – more than 200 floats, 50 000 marching, and half a million spectators, in a city with 1.6 million inhabitants. I have never seen so many people come out to celebrate, to memorialise, to fight for equal rights and against the bigotry that still exists.
The weather was beautiful and, as we walked, out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed a couple. I am not sure what it was about them that caught my eye – maybe it was their stillness – but I was transfixed. Around us there were people in costumes, dancing and singing, there was colour and movement and music. But what caught my eye was a regular couple in cargo shorts. One in a t shirt, the other in a button-down shirt.
They were two gentlemen in their late seventies, standing together on a slope. Their body language was relaxed, their faces were at peace, and one of the men was standing a little higher on the slope behind the other, wedding ring glinting in the sun. He had his arm around his partner’s upper chest from behind and they were watching the parade. Beside them was a picnic blanket with champagne and a spread of food. I wondered how things had changed for them over the years. If they were born in 1940 or so they would have experienced homophobia, their sexuality being illegal, having to hide who they were. They would probably have been persecuted and bullied, assaulted, forced to try and change who they were, maybe disowned by family and friends. I wondered if they feel at peace now, or if they feel there is still a very long way to go.