June 16 marked Denver’s annual Pride Festival Parade. Literally hundreds of people either in the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) or supporters of marched in the two-hour-long parade.
The parade started in Cheeseman Park, a stretch of land in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood infamous for having one been a graveyard – and having once been a popular spot for hook-ups in the gay community. Participants then moved up to Colfax, another infamous section of Denver, once the center of Denver’s drug and prostitute scene. The parade finished in Civic Center Park, currently infamous for needing a clean-up of rampant drug deals.
Luckily the participants in the Gay Pride Parade, the seventh-largest in the nation, were undaunted by their sometimes seedy surroundings. They showed up in full regalia on scooters, on stilts, on floats and on foot. Most of them carried banners stating their alliance such as One Colorado, fighting for equal rights in gay marriage. Some were just advertizing – Chipotle trotted out their enormous burrito-cum-bull-ride gag. Even the Aurora police flew rainbow-colored flags, the symbol of gay rights, on their cruiser.
Just a decade ago the Gay Pride Parade was a controversial celebration. Thousands flocked to Colfax then, too, but too many to jeer and push their ideologies on participants. Today the Gay Pride movement has made such strides that conservative businesses such as banks felt comfortable dragging out their horse carriage and trotting down Colfax. The Democratic party had a showing a block long. Even the Republican Party made an effort, flying an American flag off the front of their trademark elephant and carrying a hand-made sign stating “Pro-Gay GOP.” The only naysayer stood in front of the Catholic Church, and he admitted he sounded ridiculous even to himself.
Of course the parade featured plenty of people strutting their stuff, such as the Puppies in the Mountains, the Swimming Queers United in Denver, the Colorado Gay Volleyball Association, the oh-so-buff-almost-naked Haus of Flesh Dance Party from Trax and a remarkable beach float put out by Metro State.
Most heart-warming perhaps is PFLAG, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. This organization started with one woman’s brave act in marching with her gay son in New York’s Pride Parade – forty years ago. Today the campaign marches under a banner stating “One mother’s voice changed the world…” Judging by the sheer exuberance of Denver’s Pride Parade anyway, it has indeed.