(l-r) Eric Baker, James Dale, David Lam, Dr. William Kapfer, David Lewis onboard the Altair for the 21st Annual Rainbows on the Hudson Pride Parade.

Around the Town with Dr. Bill: 2023 Pride Ends with Hope for the Future

Dr. William Kapfer READ TIME: 6 MIN.

Nautical Pride

One of my favorite Pride Month festivities was joining the 21st Annual Rainbows on the Hudson Pride Parade. We rocked our best nautical attire and unleashed our inner sailors for a three-hour sail on the Hudson, which sounds eerily familiar. Wasn't the S.S.Minow from "Gilligan's Island" on a three-hour tour?

Before my time.

The unique experience was made possible for us by our friends Bob and Greg who graciously invited us aboard their elegantly appointed 98-foot luxury sailboat, the Altair, docked in NYC via Seattle for the season.

The magnificent vessel certainly commanded attention as we sailed past the Statue of Liberty on our unforgettable rainbow-charged excursion. The Altair was the lead vessel in the parade, and was dressed particularly elegantly in its 8' x 16' rainbow flag–one of the original 8-striped flags handmade by designer Gilbert Baker in 1977.

Over my lifetime, the rainbow Pride flag has become an indelible symbol for the LGBTQIA+ community across the globe. Not many folks today know that the original design actually had eight stripes, but was changed to the six-stripe version we are all familiar with because of a shortage of pink and turquoise fabric at the time.

When interviewed about the flag's design, Baker once said that his original intent "was for each color in the flag to represented something different; pink was for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, turquoise for magic, blue for serenity and purple for the spirit."

He told ABC7 news in 1972, "I like to think that those elements are in every person; everyone shares that. Flags say something. You put a rainbow flag on your windshield and you're saying something."

One of the participants in 21st Annual Rainbows on the Hudson Pride Parade

It was humbling to think that I was standing under a flag that had been made 45 years ago. Many thanks to the Knickerbocker Yacht Club for lending us the flag from their private collection.

The parade itself was part of South Street Seaport Museum's uniquely curated Pride Month programming. The unique Hudson experience was presented in collaboration with the Knickerbocker Sailing Association's LGBTQIA+ sailing club.

KSA is a non-profit gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender boating club, now in its 30th year. The group encourages folks who support diversity, and who enjoy getting out on the water of the greater New York area, to become members. Members do not need sailing or boating experience to join, because KSA is a welcoming group that will teach each the basics of sailing, boating and boat safety. The group's membership consists of over 150 members, including crew, captains of sailboats and powerboats.

The afternoon was not all just rainbow flags and scantily-dressed deckhands. The fabulous extravaganza was truly altruistic, with all proceeds from entry fees going to the Ali Forney Center, which is dedicated to protecting LGBTQIA+ youth from the harms of homelessness, empowering them with the tools needed to live independently.

Yes, even sailors know the importance of supporting our LGBTQIA+ youth.

Dr. Bill Kapfer and Dame Karen Pierce, British Ambassador to the USA

From Britannia with Pride

Many thanks to Dame Karen Pierce, British Ambassador to the USA, and the British embassy for hosting their annual Pride party at the British Embassy in Washington, DC this week.

It was an extraordinary rainbow moment in Washington as a whole host of leaders from the LGBTQIA+ community, allies, and individuals from all walks of life, both within and beyond the corridors of power, gathered to celebrate Pride Month. Indeed, in the heart of the nation's capital, party goers witnessed a powerful convergence of diverse voices, united in their commitment to fostering inclusivity, acceptance, and equality, for an off-the-record, off-the-clock celebration that transcended the boundaries of politics.

Dr. William Kapfer and Venus Valhalla

Set against the backdrop of the British Embassy's majestic architecture, the outdoor extravaganza immersed us all in a joyous atmosphere of love, acceptance, and sheer exhilaration.

The entertainment for the night was one of Washington's own Venus Valhalla, self-proclaimed "DC's Valkyrie." I'm a huge Wagnerian and can listen to the Ride of the Valkyries" from "Der Ring des Nibelungen" ("The Ring Cycle") over and over, so I got the reference, but I'm sure not many of the young people at the party had even heard of Brünnhilde.

And that's ok; I have not heard of some of their idols either, but we are still one big family of mutual admiration!

I've never seen such an unforgettable display of talent than that of Ms. V. In an exhilarating moment of daring artistry, she made a breathtaking leap off a barstool, almost appearing suspended in mid-air with an audacious display of flexibility and showmanship, as she executed a jaw-dropping split. I actually lost my breath at the mesmerizing moment Ms. V hit the cement.

(l-r) Rodericka Applewhaite, Dr. William Kapfer, Matt Corridoni, Jeff Zeleny and Dominic Maione at the Pride Party at the British Embassy

Yikes! A true testament to the power of self-expression and the indomitable spirit that fuels the world of drag. As the vibrant tapestry of Pride Month draws to a close, I'm feeling particularly grateful for the amalgam of ways I was able to experience this year's month of celebration.

Although the calendar may turn, I believe the spirit of Pride reverberates even more now within the hearts of those who have stood united during the community engagements. As for me, my emotions swelled many times with pride this month, as did my steadfast commitment to be of service to this grand community of ours as best I can.

Moreover, Pride Month's conclusion signals not an end, but a new beginning, and an infinite future–a renewed commitment to advocate, educate, and uplift marginalized voices. It serves as a reminder to me that our stories matter, our existence is celebrated, and our fight for equality endures, fueling a legacy that will shape a more compassionate and accepting world for generations to come.

by Dr. William Kapfer

Read These Next