Last Sunday, Dallas hosted its annual L.G.B.T. Pride event. Pride is a coming together of people with shared experiences, where they can celebrate their identities.
Many people have preconceived notions about Pride parades and what they symbolize. To many, they are nothing but celebrations of sexual deviance and perversion. Protesters with “Gay sex is sin” signs yelling about repentance made clear that this idea is unfortunately common.
To clarify: there is nothing wrong with events that are more party-oriented without any political or philosophical substance, and highly sexual events are not limited to gay people. To say otherwise is another way of singling out the L.G.B.T. community, painting it as more sexual than its counterpart. Pride events are scorned for being sexually charged, while heterosexual clubs and the like are not. There is more to Pride than these stereotypes.
Gay parents bring their children to pride to celebrate their families. Parents of gay children held signs and wear shirts proclaiming, “I am proud of my gay son/daughter.” Christian denominations such as the Episcopal Church and the Unitarian Universalists marched in the parade, preaching a gospel of love and acceptance, a far cry from the small groups of protesters who show up every year. Different companies showed their support for L.G.B.T. rights by having employees march in the parade on large floats. The Chipotle float even had a giant burrito on top, throwing out coupons and specially made Chipotle buttons.
Political advocacy groups also regularly attend the parade. Hillary Clinton’s campaign was there, marching alongside the Human Rights Campaign, which endorsed her bid for the presidency. The stonewall democrats were registering people to vote and signing up people to volunteer for the upcoming elections. “This Free Life,” an L.G.B.T.-centric anti-smoking campaign, was also there. Lambda Legal, which protects L.G.B.T. and other minority rights, had a booth aimed at fighting voter suppression and getting people to go out and vote. The Mothers Demand Action group also attended, raising awareness about the effects of gun violence.
Gay couples, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision last June, are now able to celebrate their marriages nationwide for the first time, making this year’s Pride particularly special.
This year’s celebration was also especially important for the community as it came not long after the events in Orlando’s “Pulse” nightclub, where 49 people were brutally killed in a violent display of homophobia. The Orlando attack came at a time when many were starting to feel safe in their identities. The attack shattered the idea that the community was safe.
Some did not want to go to the parade for fear of a similar attack, and police presence was noticeably more prominent in the park and along the parade route. A float honoring the dead was a sobering reminder that while Dallas’ Pride was going strong, there is still a long way to go for acceptance and equality.
While there are some “not safe for work” aspects to Pride parades, Dallas’ parade is considered tame in comparison to other parades. Pride gets a bad reputation from people who see them on television or who have never been to a Pride parade before.
Go to one. See what they’re actually about. You might find yourself surrounded by people with whom you have a lot in common, you might enjoy the party aspect or you might even find a cause with which you personally identify.
Pride parades are as complex as they are important. Don’t let a stereotype keep you from understanding what they are really about.