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Seattle Pride Parade dazzles after two-year hiatus

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Photo by Lindsey Anderson
Photo by Lindsey Anderson

After a two-year hiatus, the Seattle Pride Parade returned to its full glory, with floats, music, and local celebrities drawing a crowd to downtown on Sunday. The festivities began promptly at 10 a.m. with speakers, including Seattle Pride's director, Krystal Marx. At 11 a.m., the parade was fully underway on Fourth Avenue, led first by Dykes on Bikes and the Border Riders, members of the armed forces, and scouts of all kinds, then by grand marshals, including frontline workers: Alaska Airlines flight attendants, teachers, bank tellers, bus drivers, and healthcare workers.

Photo by Lindsey Anderson  

Charities and organizations
LGBTQ+ charities and organizations made up many of the participants in the parade. Volunteers and staff members from PFLAG, the ACLU, DESC, Black Pride, Entre Hermanos, and the GSBA made up just some of the many contingents from the LGBTQ+ community.

Marchers made themselves more visible by sporting colorful outfits, face paint, and signs, despite the heat (topping out at 86 degrees, Sunday was Seattle's hottest day of the summer to that point). The weather did not deter the festivities, however. The sunshine only prompted some participants to shed their clothes.

Photos by Lindsey Anderson  

One group proved that less can be more, especially when it comes to Pride outfits. Sporting nothing but body paint, a group of cyclists paraded through the streets to raucous applause. Despite receiving flak from conservatives online later, the group encouraged body positivity and self-esteem.

Photo by Lindsey Anderson  

Seattle professional athletes come out to celebrate
The naked cyclists weren't the only athletes to take to the streets in celebration of Pride. Participants from all of Seattle's major sports teams showed up in different waves of the parade. First were soccer stars representing both the Seattle Sounders and the O.L. Reign, some of whom rode through the parade on the back of a pickup truck, waving to fans as volunteers handed out exclusive Pride merch and kicked around blow-up soccer balls. Some fans lost it as players Phallon Tullis-Joyce, Ally Watt, Sinclaire Miramontez, and Quinn waved and blew kisses toward them.

Then came members of the Seattle Mariners baseball team, led by the Mariner Moose mascot, who danced and threw prizes to those in attendance. Members of the Seattle Storm followed, marching, dancing, and even riding atop a small car with the mascot, Doppler. The final sports heroes to strut their way down the parade route were the Seattle Seahawks, joined by the Seagals, who danced and cheered to Pride bops.

Photo by Lindsey Anderson  

Local businesses
Local Queer businesses also made appearances. Announcing its reopening, The Comeback contingent featured a large banner held up by several men in nothing but sneakers and speedos. They were flanked by gorgeous drag queens enduring the heat under layers of makeup, jewels, and fringe, and were followed by a float full of drag queens and hunks performing and throwing T-shirts into the excited crowd. The float advertised the club's special Latin night, "Eskandala," every Sunday.

Excited to finally be back out and celebrating Pride and to demonstrate their support, attendees cheered extra loud for regional healthcare workers who paraded down Fourth Avenue. Premera Blue Cross brought prom to Pride with a blue float decorated with a disco ball and balloons. Atop the float young people celebrated and danced along to the music, enjoying a prom they may have had to miss due to the pandemic.

UW Medicine also showed up to celebrate all the work they have done to help keep the community safe with their free COVID testing sites. Med students laughed, danced, and marched down the street with a massive football helmet—shaped go-kart.

Photo by Lindsey Anderson  

Highlighting the arts
Community arts programs also were represented at the parade. Black Coffee Northwest came out to showcase not only their unique local businesses but also Black excellence with an iconic step-dance performance from some of the city's youngest future superstars, to the rhythm of an ecstatic drum line that somehow transferred the energy of the crowd into the beats emanating from their instruments.

Local marching bands showered the crowd with music and love. Accompanying Seattle Soccer was a talented group of bassists who formed an iconic line in rainbow shorts. At each break in their song, one of the performers would throw out a pile of sparkles in a moment of pure joy and celebration. The Rainbow City Marching Band also performed near the start of the parade.

Abortion protests at Pride
Despite the excitement, joy, and celebration, there was also an underlying air of rage, as the festivities happened to fall just 48 hours after the Supreme Court's ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. Some activists and volunteers took this moment to highlight the issue. Signs about abortion rights and reproductive justice, and calls to "abort the court" were common among marchers regardless of the organizations they were representing.
Some protesters showed up with the single purpose of bringing attention to the ruling and reminding those in attendance that the courts likely won't stop at Roe. "Pride was a RIOT" read a sign held by a masked person in a pink leotard. "Don't just vote, ACT UP," their other sign read.

Another protester who seemed to appear out of nowhere held up a brick with the word "SCOTUS" (the Supreme Court) on one side and "ACAB" (All Cops Are Bastards) on the other. With brief chants, the protesters reminded those in celebration of the legacy of the march and the importance of activism.

Capitalist takeover
Of course, it wouldn't be the Pride Parade without corporations taking to the streets to take advantage of the advertising opportunity and rainbow capitalism. Seattle-based corporations such as Starbucks, T-Mobile, Alaska Airlines, and Boeing showed off their progressive stances by marching in colorful T-shirts and giving away keychains and other merch or goodies.

While the participation of corporations was to be expected, it left many in the crowd feeling bored. "My friends and I got sick of the corporate floats in the parade, so we just started walking in it and infiltrated all of the businesses," said one onlooker.

Aside from the overt commercialization of Pride, some POC community members found the weekend events to be, at times, culturally insensitive. "No, seriously, why were there so many white people with dreads and braids? It was my first Pride and I was very confused," said Seattlite Maddie May. "I lost it when I saw the white lady selling woven baskets and dream catchers," added another observer, Angel.

Despite the heat, an apparent lack of deodorant, and the always-present PNW-style cultural appropriation, Seattle Pride 2022 was still a space to find some joy, meet fellow members of the community, and celebrate love.