"Why do you need a gay parade?"

In a letter from Homer PFLAG about the emcee who wouldn't say the words gay and lesbian at the July 4th parade, Jennifer also responded to a loaded question asked by some locals, "Why do those gay people need to have a special float in the parade at all?" She wrote that "the reality of discrimination and ignorance towards LGBT people is very real in Homer, Alaska---particularly for young people."

A straight couple visiting from Texas asked me a similar question at the Anchorage Pride parade, the week before July 4th: "Why do you need to have a gay parade?"

The tourists were stuck at the intersection of 6th Ave. and I St. because the APD blocked the cross streets along the route for the hour long parade without bothering to divert traffic or even warn the cars to turn at 7th. (Who's bright idea was that?)

Like Jennifer, I started to answer the question as asked, explaining about the ordinance veto and the red-sirts demanding that we be fired for being gay... but the parade wasn't a protest, and the answer felt incomplete because the question was biased.

The question asks us to prove why we need a gay parade, or an LGBT float, as though we were taking something we might not deserve. It makes us defensive, and lets them argue that we don't need the parade and shouldn't be allowed to have it.

But the parade is a celebration, not an argument.

"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."

The woman just stared at me, but the man nodded. "OK, I can see that," he said.


The Diva Paige said...

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!


E. Ross said...

Good points! I said the best thing I could think of at the time, but kept wondering how else it could be answered.

This post also started an interesting conversation on Bent's FB page, where some people commented that we do 'need' an annual gay parade - and the rest of Anchorage needs it too. I knew you all would come up with good answers!

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