Answers to "Why do you need a gay parade?"

A straight couple asked this question at the Alaska PrideFest parade and I posted my reply on the blog after reading the answer Homer PFLAG gave to a similar question about their float in the July 4th parade. The post got an interesting comment, and when I shared the link on Bent's FB page readers gave even more great answers - as I knew you would. (It's true, the readers are my best source of ideas. How did I do this blog before setting up the Facebook page?)

Our answers form a wonderful set of responses to anyone who faces this question, and show the diversity of Alaska's LGBTA community. Are the PrideFest committee chairs taking notes?

Jennifer from Homer PFLAG began the discussion with her letter on the emcee who dissed the LGBT Youth float in their July 4th parade:
"Some people have said, "Why do those gay people need to have a special float in the parade at all?" I would answer, that the reality of discrimination and ignorance towards LGBT people is very real in Homer, Alaska---particularly for young people."
I faced a similar question at Alaska PrideFest in Anchorage, struggled with the negative implications of the words "you need" and replied,
"Well, why do we need a July 4th parade?" I asked. "We don't - we have it because we want to celebrate our country."

"Even if we didn't need a gay pride parade, we'd want to have it to celebrate the LGBT community. We celebrate our LGBT groups, mostly run by volunteers, we celebrate the LGBT people in Alaska, we celebrate our friends and allies, and we celebrate that we can have a gay parade in Anchorage, that we have the right to peacefully assemble and celebrate our community. Like the 4th of July parade."
First, a reader made good points in a blog post comment:
I would have also mentioned that the Pride Parade comes at the end of Pride Week, which is celebrated in cities all over the country... during a month proclaimed by the President of the United States!

The LGBT celebration is no different than that of February and African-American History Month, or March and American Red Cross. Cheers for sticking to your guns, and educating... without getting up on a soap-box... LOL!
Then the FB readers jumped in with these interesting comments:
Why have a parade at all? To express our pride in something, to show how far we've come, to make known that we all are great. Parades are great shows of triumph. We have a gay pride because, hello, we're in the 21st Century, not the 18th. We have a gay pride because we're proud, too.

Because it's much friendlier than an equal rights march.

Processions have in all peoples and at all times been a natural form of public celebration, as forming an orderly, and impressive ceremony. Symbolic processions were an important tool in the non-violent protest of Gandhi. Marches on Washington include formal processions. I think for us, as a community, to have the parade we are demonstrating our heritage as well as our unity as a community.

Why? a community WE ALL are largely else are we to show that we are here?

In one respect, it's less about being proud of ourselves and more about showing ourselves to the world at large. We're showing the richness of our diversity and the support we enjoy from our friends and family. But just as much as highlighting our differences, we're celebrating the things that make us like everyone else, we love, laugh, party and share our lives with friends and family just the same way everyone else does.

Is "Why do we need a gay parade? the real question or is it more "Why must you publicly flaunt your gay selves? You know some folks are just not comfortable with anyone who does not fit inside their closet.

Unless every GLBT turns purple tomorrow they'll never know we are even here....THATs why we need a parade. Without it how will they even know we exist? If they don't know we exist then laws or omissions will be made to make out lives even MORE unequal.

To liven things up!

The answer to the question should it have been asked by someone who is not comfortable with gays is this: We do not need a gay parade, but you do.

To raise awareness that gays are everywhere/can be anybody and to celebrate that we are not alone!

I have met so many people who are still struggling to come out of the closet. When I was in the closet I felt ashamed of who I was as a person. Its important to see people who can assert their own identity for everyone who is still struggling, because no one should have to feel ashamed of who they are.

I love the ideas expressed here (it WAS one of our bigger parades)! With what happened to the Imperial Court's float showed the entire community who and what we're about. We are a loving, inclusive, and as expressed here, diverse community. Our friends, family, and allies especially showed true colors and really came together. I couldnt be more proud of the face we showed. And THAT'S why I feel a Parade is a celebration of who we are and a very healthy way to express our Diversity!
Such great answers. I learn more about this community with every post and discussion, from the generous people who send information to the responses of readers after the post is up. (Sometimes, they write the post for me!) I'm a lucky blogger.

This discussion began with straight people who are not supportive asking us to justify our parade. However, LGBT people also ask why we still have these parades. Next time you hear an LGBT friend - in Alaska or elsewhere - say they aren't going to their Pride Festival and we don't need gay parades any more, remember the answers above and the gay and straight people who do need and want an annual gay parade, for all kinds of reasons. Remember, and come to the parade!

No comments:

Copyright © 2008 by Bent Alaska.