By Shawn Gaylord
I remember seeing footage of Pride parades on television in the late 70s. At that time, those few seconds would inevitably be the most outrageous scenes you could imagine, accompanied by commentary laced with homophobia. But I still felt a fleeting moment of connection knowing there were people out there that could understand me.
The first few Pride celebrations I attended were in the mid-90s and the United States was still in the midst of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Those Pride marches had a tone of commemoration in addition to celebration. Over the years, many in the United States have become somewhat dismissive of Pride as it grew into such a commercial behemoth, with floats sponsored by major multinational corporations. Washington D.C.’s Pride this year is literally billed as, “Pride Parade presented by Marriott Rewards.”
But as cynical as we may be at times, I still watch a Pride parade with a range of emotions, from the thrill of the revving engines of “Dykes on Bikes,” which is the kick-off for D.C. Pride, to the choked-up feeling I get watching PFLAG moms waving homemade signs about how much they love their LGBT children.
And of course, I can’t help but recognize how privileged I am to celebrate Pride in a city where thousands of LGBT people march freely every day to their offices, to local restaurants, and home where their legal spouses and children await. And I know it is not the same everywhere.
This year, I am particularly concerned about the Pride march in Kiev, where nationalist groups are already vowing a bloodbath. I am proud of my colleagues in Jamaica who seem unstoppable in their efforts to increase visibility, often at the risk of their own safety. And I remember our partners in Kyrgyzstan who will not be holding any public celebrations since their efforts to organize events in 2015 were met with violence.
Throughout June and July, we will be reflecting on Pride and all the work for equality happening on the ground, around the world, every day of the year. We’ll feature some of the Voices for Equality we have presented this past year, including in the compilation video above.
We hope you will join us in celebrating #prideworldwide and we look forward to another year of collaboration with our friends around the world as we strive to create an environment where all people will be treated with respect and dignity.