Who doesn't love a parade? Especially those colorful and upbeat parades that celebrate the joys of life and confirm our existence?
The upcoming summer months afford parade lovers the opportunity to enjoy many events that reflect and honor various community values. During the month of June the LGBT community celebrates pride with parades, picnics, marching bands and family gatherings.
And, yes, it does take an entire month to celebrate gay pride!! And no, no one could possibly love a parade more than the gay community!! Nothing could be more festive than a gay parade with colorful floats and exciting music!
And let's not forget those scantily clad young folks who bring a smile to everyone's face, not to mention the dykes-on-bykes group that brings a whole new meaning to ladies riding motorcycles.
Since the inception of June Pride month in the 1970s, gay parades have become accepted social institutions and part of the world fabric of celebrations.
Pride parades serve the greater purpose of providing opportunity for LGBT individuals to honor their diversity, while affirming a sense of unity. Parades also provide a venue for political expression and protesting the abundance of injustices against LGBT folks.
With the growth and acceptance of the modern-day lesbian and gay rights movement, marches have been held in Washington, D.C., to protest sodomy laws, Anita Bryant's anti-gay crusade, the sometimes dismal lack of action in the fight against HIV/AIDS, anti-gay military policies and the lack of recognition of hate crimes.
Marches have also called attention to the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and for the need to support LGBT parental rights. From a more entertaining perspective, the gay pride parade in West Hollywood has become the third-largest parade of any kind in Southern California, lagging behind only the Tournament of Roses and Christmas parades.
In historical review, it is apparent that marches and gay pride parades have flourished, and their growth and popularity are paradigmatic of the development of the queer movement into a mass movement for equality.
Not everyone, of course, appreciates the frivolity of the gay pride parade, including some within the gay community itself. There are those who feel there is an undue emphasis upon sexual orientation, and the lack of discretion and modesty are to the detriment of public morals or may be counterproductive to convincing the overall community that LGBT folks are to be taken seriously and treated with respect.
Such subscribers to identity politics argue that one's sexual orientation should not be a quintessential defining characteristic and that gay pride has become too commercial, lending itself to further ethical and moral criticism.
Nevertheless, gay pride events and parades have grown into massive worldwide celebrations, and the general sense is that celebrating a sense of pride and self-worth counteracts the pain of persistent discrimination.
The overall pride message to individuals is that they should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The larger message to society is that sexual diversity is a cultural gift and, while maybe confusing to some, sexual orientation and gender identity are inherent and cannot be intentionally altered.
If you are wondering about pride celebrations in Indiana, believe us, we do have them.
Indy Pride in Indianapolis has grown from a small weekend event to an entire week of celebrations, with an attendance of over 25,000 in 2006. This year's parade has over 50 entries and will wend its way through the Monument Circle.
Sponsorship now includes such corporations as Eli Lilly, Cummins Engine, ConAgra and many local businesses.
Not to be outdone by Indy, the small town of Spencer in Owen County is having its first ever Pride Picnic this year, supported by many local businesses and organizations, as well as a few religious organizations.
And while Bloomington has had a couple of Pride Picnic celebrations in previous years, we wonder what happened. We know the LGBT community here takes pride in itself, and we're curious why there's no event this year. There must be life sans the student body.
But, never mind, Bloomingtonians are more than welcome to attend some of the other events in Indy, Spencer, Evansville and Fort Wayne.
We only ask that while you are partying hrarty you keep in mind that LGBT individuals still have not achieved their civil rights or full equality in most countries, especially in the good ole US of A.
While we honor ourselves and our value as individuals we must continue to work toward the vision that someday soon we will be accepted into society as equal to all others.
Our parades are entertaining, educational and maybe even inspiring, but they are no substitute for representative democracy.
Helen Harrell can be reached at .