When Seattle Gets Proud

Yesterday I went to my second Pride parade! I've been openly gay for years but didn't have the interest/means of going until recently in my life.

Since I'm getting much more mobile as I get older, I utilized public transportation and hopped back and forth on the monorail connecting Westlake Center and Seattle Center, as well as some good old fashioned public transit. Monorails packed to the point of ticket lines rounding corners, and I thanked my knowledge of shortcuts to the monorail station at Westlake, or else my Pride would have been line-standing for more than 30% of the time.

The bus was by far the most jaw-droppingly packed, though. I've been taking the 522 at a variety of times all year, but the bus back from 6th and Pike back to Woodinville was an experience like no other. The bus queue was so packed that many of us were allowed to enter from the back door just to get in, and we stood pressed up against one another, most of the standing population wearing Pride garb among the normally-dressed others in the seats, and we depended on each other for stability, as few had room to hold on to something as the bus crossed the highway.

photo taken after bus emptied enough for me to have a seat - couldn't even lift my arms to take a picture when bus was packed!

That's not to say that was the extent of my experience with crowds at Pride, however. I attended the parade, albeit a little late, and watched myself sunburn between groups of marchers and performers. I also met a husky puppy named Iago, who I think is my Pride MVP for the year. That aside, I enjoyed the parade and all the handouts, from stickers to bananas to ice pops.

As I start to develop my own points of view and become critical of the things around me, I have yet to crack down on my own naivete. Though I enjoyed the heck out of the parade, it was brought up to me later just how corporate the event was. I thought back through it... While there were a bunch of LGBT-focused organizations involved in the parade, there were also day-to-day businesses, like banks and stores, involved. Was this a bad thing? On one end, this capitalized Pride and perhaps distracted from the actual meaning, but on the other hand, it was interesting to see which businesses were interested in showing support of the gay community and how they interacted with the spectators. If this brings money in for Pride, then perhaps it isn't such a bad thing.

From a personal standpoint, I'm unsure as to what the message of Pride has become as it's grown into a festival. Notably, a marcher had a sign reminding us all that the first Pride was indeed a riot, and it's significant to remember the roots from which this public, relatively safe event came. It's nice to see businesses come out and show support, but in a community like Seattle, is it necessary, or is it convenient? Does marching actually reflect business practices? For example, it was helpful to see religious organizations (churches, temples) march, so that I knew which specific places were open and inclusive, but is it my own personal bias that trusts their message over a bank or grocery store, who I could debate as just trying to gain customers versus being actually inclusive?

I suppose this is something I'll continue to look into- How Pride has developed as inclusivity has gone up in more liberal spaces...