Parading for Liberation

Kathryn Herzog

Rainbow balloons and flags flew over Loring Park this weekend as gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people celebrated the pride they feel in themselves and their community.
Members of the University’s gay, lesbian, bi and transgender groups joined people from more than 150 organizations to march in the PRIDE/Twin Cities Parade early Sunday morning.
The parade was part of the 24th annual PRIDE Festival that included entertainment on two stages and more than 300 vendors.
Organizations from around the state educated festival participants about issues such AIDS as well as policies and legislation concerning the gay, lesbian, bi and transgender community. The legislation includes the Defense of Marriage Act, a bill that would permit states to not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states where such marriages are legal.
Members of University GLBT associations handed out information on what the University has to offer to gay, lesbian, bi and transgender students.
“We want to represent the University and let people know that we have a queer community as well,” said Michele Domingo, member of the Association of Gay/Lesbian/ Bi/Transgender Student Organization and Their Friends. “It’s about building community, and for myself, it’s finding a network and support group.”
Domingo said she transferred to the Minneapolis campus because she knew the GLBT associations were present here.
“This is where I came out,” said Domingo. “I felt comfortable because I knew support for me was strong.”
Domingo said it was important for her to get involved in gay, lesbian, bi and transgender activism to help other women like herself.
“Making it known that I am a queer woman of color can help other women of color to come out,” she said.
This year’s PRIDE/Twin Cities theme is “Pride: The Flame of Liberation.” The theme symbolizes the hope of survival for the gay, lesbian, bi and transgender community.
Beth Zemsky, Director of the Gay, Lesbian, bi and Transgender Programs Office and grand marshal of this year’s parade, spoke to a crowd after the parade and cited the political challenges that the community faces.
“We are in a very uncertain time,” said Zemsky. “The politics of fear are taking over.”
Zemsky said the Christian right believes that gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people are dangerous to families and democracy. Zemsky said that’s because the community has what she thinks is a clear message.
“The power of desire and love actually can change things,” said Zemsky. “That’s why we’re here isn’t it?”
Zemsky said without that desire and love, gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people would never come out of the closet and would never have come to the festival.
About 20 University students, staff members and alumni marched in the parade along with Goldie Gopher representing University GLBT organizations and services.
Along with University GLBT representatives were a diverse group of gay, lesbian, bi and transgender organizations and advocacy groups.
An estimated 30,000 spectators lined LaSalle and Blaisedell avenues to watch the group Dykes on Bikes create a roaring thunder of Harley Davidson engines and see the rainbow colored floats carrying local drag queen honoraries.
Throughout the festival and parade, country music and the thumping bass of dance music filled the air.
Annalee Stewart of the University’s GLBT Alumni Association said she was participating in PRIDE events with students in order to be a role model and mentor for students coming out while at the University.
“There are many young people who fit into the GLBT description,” said Stewart. “They need to know that they are welcome and represented at the University.”
Stewart said that as a student and former faculty member at the University, she didn’t have any role models.
Throughout the crowd, gay and lesbian couples walked arm in arm through a festive and supportive atmosphere.
Zemsky said the festival showed open arms to young people who have not come to terms with their sexual orientation.
“This is one of the opportunities for students just coming out to realize that they are not alone,” said Zemsky. “It presents the options in the community.”
Zemsky said the attendance of gay, lesbian, bi and transgender employee groups from major corporations such as 3M and Allina Health show young people that their options are not limited.
PRIDE celebrations will continue throughout the Twin Cities area until August 10.