June is the month of gay pride parades. Last Saturday, in Columbus, Ohio, High Street took on a festive vibration as a mixture of art groups, political organizations, churches and business made their way from the state house to Goodale Park in gay pride solidarity. Both people in the parade and those that lined the streets whooped it up in a joyous sound of shouts and applause.
Today that scene is being repeated in other parades in other cities. New York City is one of those where this weekend is filled with events. The parade is just one of them. It’s a grand happening for good reason. The first such parade in New York took place on June 28 in 1971, one year after the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. The riots were caused after police raided the Stonewall Inn and people resisted arrest. If you saw the movie “Milk” this year, there’s footage of both of the events.
In 1971, parades also happened in Chicago and San Francisco. Back then the message was mostly political, but over the years the tone has changed and the number of cities and countries that hold pride parades have increased.
Political groups still participate, but these days, the tone and purpose is mostly celebratory. No matter what’s happening with gay rights, during the parade, life is a party.
Like all parades, there is a continuity among them that ties them together. There are also aspects that are quite unique and take on the character of the places where they are held. Years ago, I was at the gay pride parade in West Hollywood. It mirrored the flashiness that one might attribute to this part of California.
In Columbus, Midwest tastes and sensibilities factor into the line-up. Last year, there was a group of guys dressed up like the Brady Bunch singing the Brady Bunch-theme song and other Brady Bunch hits.
Browse through pictures of gay pride and you’ll see images that look like they’re from an earnest Mardi Gras parade with a heartfelt message. The variety of pictures are as varied as the countries where gay pride parades happen. The absence of some countries among the Flickr photos can also be noted. Also, important, anyone can be in a gay pride parade whether gay or straight, Republican or Democrat, or religious or not. You name a category and there will be someone who fits it–well, almost. Some people just aren’t that happy.
(The first picture was taken in France. The man with the rainbow on his cheek was in Mexico.) Click through the gallery to see which other countries are pride friendly.