The Pride rallies began in the 1980's with music, speakers, and candlelight vigils. But on Sunday, GLBT folks & their friends took to the streets (literally) for the first time when over 500 people gathered in Big Spring Park yesterday for a block party and parade. The event was organized by James Robinson, director of GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, and he has a lot to be proud of. Although the day was sweltering, it didn't reduce the enthusiasm of the crowd or those working the information tables - including the local Unitarian Church, Madison County Democratic Party, and Why Marriage Matters Alabama (an Alabama marriage equality group organized by LIA contributor & blogger BessemerOpinions).
Entertainment included music, comedy, speakers, a gospel choir, and even a drag show. Daddycat and I laughed that we never, ever expected to begin a sentence with "I was at a drag show in Big Spring Park today and...."
Even though the atmosphere was celebratory, few people could ignore the challenges facing GLBT folks in our state.
Too many people face rough times due to prejudice from their own friends & families, institutionalized discrimination via government policies, and a cold shoulder from some churches. But everyone basking in yesterday's warmth and welcoming atmosphere seemed almost jubilant.
The times, they really are changing. They have to.
NOTE: I updated the lede to reflect the fact that people have gathered for Pride rallies for quite a while (the first one I remember was in the 1980's), but Sunday's "Parade" was the first time the group actually marched in a real parade on the public streets. James Robinson wanted to make sure that people know about and respect the efforts of those who have been active on these issues for decades!