I didn't got to Pride Fest last year. It was hot, and I didn't have anyone to go with, and I didn't know if I'd see anyone I knew downtown, and I was probably playing video games or making deviled eggs or something and convinced myself that going would be a hassle and not fun.
This year, in light of the passage of Prop 8 in California in November, the inclusion of Rick Warren at the inauguration despite his anti-gay views, President Obama's postponing of his campaign promise to address "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", the Justice Department's recent brief supporting the Defense of Marriage Act equating gay marriage and incest, and the general tone of the country, I decided it was important to continue having a voice, and to be a vocal member of my community. While it's easy to support a Pride Festival in San Francisco or New York City, where attendance numbers in the thousands, it's just as important to support in places like Knoxville where LGBT people are a small, often forgotten minority.
Next thing you know, I'll even have a bumper sticker on my car.
Or an official pair of "Friend of Dorothy" shoes:
Then again, I can't walk in heels as well as that guy did, so maybe not.
Not only did I go to Pride, but I brought Jess and Megs, even though they're straight. Jess wore her "Gay? Fine with me" t shirt, and I had on my "OUT" t shirt with our university logo:
When we were walking up to Gay Street (is it a coincidence that the Pride Parade route is right down Gay Street, of all streets in town?) from the parade staging area on State Street:
some guy and his wife walked past and looked at our shirts, and he whispered to her, "See? I think something's going on today." I think so, too, mister, but you didn't have to sprint for your car.
The three of us walked around for a little while, looking at restaurants and wondering if the lunch special was a coincidence:
and we watched the guy blowing giant bubbles for a while:
and then it was time for the parade in the 96 degree heat.
Our beloved Hard Knox Roller Girls turned out to be supportive, giving out flyers for the next home game:
I was kind of hoping they might clobber someone just for fun, but it probably better that they not do that on asphalt.
I was surprised by the number of churches that attended:
I'm not really ready to go to church, and may never be (but I have been thinking about it and, believe it or not, praying lately; it turns out that I may believe in some sort of God after all, but definitely have not softened toward organized religion), but it's nice knowing that there are options nearby where I might feel welcome if I did want to attend.
While the churches were a surprise to me, the rest of the parade was not, because no Pride Parade would be complete without Dykes on Bikes:
shirtless dancing guys:
and a couple trucks full of drag queens:
Hot, sweaty drag queens. Once the parade was over, we didn't stick around long, because it was really crowded and there was no shade:
Right after I took that last picture, a guy walked past us complaining loudly to his friend that "they're all going to Hell, you know". That part wasn't terribly surprising, either, and that's why it's important to show up to this stuff even if it is hot and sweaty and you don't feel like leaving the house.