Unity at harmonious Seattle Gay Pride, record turnout
Unity at harmonious Seattle Gay Pride, record turnout
by John Griffin - SGN Contributing Writer

Summer started in earnest for the LGBT Community Sunday, as the sun shone hotly on a tumultuous and joyous celebration, starting with the Gay Pride Parade in downtown Seattle and culminating with a raucous and ebullient festival that packed the Seattle Center with revelers.

Any differences that may have remained among the participants and spectators over where and how we show our pride in this city were pushed far into the background. Everyone was there to enjoy themselves, and let the community at large, and the world, know that we are a united people in spirit of Gay Pride. It was obvious that our supporters continue to grow by the fact that people from all walks of life were there to join in the fun. Gay Pride has become an all-American family event, where everybody can come and have a good time, eat Souvlaki, drink lemonade, listen to music, fly a flag, get on a soapbox and hand out flyers. Everything that makes a holiday celebration can be had at Gay Pride; and nobody that's looking for a good time wants to be left out.

The Dykes on Bikes carried on their tradition of starting the parade, but they had to follow the Seattle Police who chose our parade to show off their classic 1966 Dodge Charger patrol car and the new Dodge Charger, which has just made its reappearance this year. The crowd pressed in against the barriers to get a better view, while the officers did their best to keep them from spilling into the street. No longer gravitating to the leather and Levis image, and no longer shunning the support of motorcycle males, this contingent donned the garb that they wanted to make the day more festive, and express their individuality and their divergence from any stereotype, more than ever. The number of police motorcycles accompanying them made it even clearer how much they like being part of the show, waving and smiling to the crowd.

Less formidable, but equally enthusiastic two wheelers followed as the sQream Scooter Club strutted their stuff. The American Veterans for Equal Rights provided an honor guard for the Grand Marshall. The crowd's reception made it clear that this is a truly American event. Every patriotic reaction, from cheers and applause to sober salutes, hats removed, and hands held over hearts, honored the flag as it passed. The Rainbow City Band played, winding up the crowd even more for the appearance of the Grand Marshall, our Governor and invaluable ally, Christine Gregoire. She appeared jubilant, accompanied by her daughter who wore a campaign T-shirt tailored to the occasion. The Governor was closely followed by a large and noisy group of her more active supporters, waving signs and greeting the crowd.

Dozens of citizens' groups, businesses and institutions were represented in the long parade that followed, either making a statement as part of the LGBT community or embracing diversity as a part of the vitality that makes our society what it is. From the Safe Schools campaign to Macy's Frango Wagon, Starbucks, radio stations, the GSBA distributing Guides, Safeco Insurance, the long procession of Gay-owned and other well-known businesses interspersed as a constant reminder of how far we have come. The days when a pickup truck drove into the parade filled with conservative protesters and when the rally was interrupted by a bomb scare seemed like distant memories. If there were protesters there on Sunday, they couldn't be heard above the merrymakers, nor seen among those who came to have a good time.

The throng poured into the Seattle Center from all sides, quickly making a sea of happy faces. Families with children were everywhere, and the rainbow colors were almost as evident on the families as they were on the drag queens and tattooed bears in utilikilts. There was one adorable little boy with a blond Mohawk, seemingly alone, who was happily handing out lollipops to whomever wanted one. Music blared from the bandstand, snacks, beverages and souvenirs changed hands as everyone toured the booths and waited for the program to begin. A diverse collection of artists rounded out the PrideFest experience on the mainstage. Headlining this year was Kristine W, an artist with more consecutive number-one dance hits than Madonna, who has a huge following worldwide, especially amongst LGBT fans. Hosting the show are local drag sensations Lily Armani and GLAMAZONIA. Also featured are Seeing Blind, a local rock band, musicians Lisa Marshall and Sue Quigley, and comics Barbara Sehr and Matt Bragg. The DJ stage next to the International Fountain features Gay, Lesbian, and Trans talent from the Northwest and from around the country: DJ Kyler, LA Kendall, DJ Rob Hall, and Mathematix. Also coming to PrideFest this year to speak were Mayor Greg Nickels and State Representative Jamie Pedersen, as well as other prominent local and state politicians.

To sum it up, it was a superlatively successful event. However, I must reiterate that I think the biggest success is the degree of participation by those outside the LGBT community. They didn't line up on the parade route to look at the freaks and go home; they cheered and applauded and surged into the festival to share in the good time, and we welcome them. We have always been a part of them. Now, come and be a part of us! Together we will have the ultimate expression of Gay Pride, by embracing everyone who will accept us as we are as brothers and sisters.