Sunday, June 12, marked the 2011 Pride Parade in Albany sponsored by the Pride Center of the Capital Region. I don’t have too much to say about the parade or the Pride Center that hasn’t been said already; the Center opened in 1970 and is the oldest continually operating gay and lesbian community center in the country. That counts for a lot. You can get more information at their website.
I usually pride myself (get it) on delivering words to match my photos. In this case, I think the photos say more than words ever could; the pride parade and festival is a chance for everyone to come together and acknowledge the truth that has been for so long hidden: many of those around us lead something different than the typical straight lifestyle. Lets embrace that.
2011 hosted a great parade. I missed 2010 but got to check out the 2009 Pride Festival, and this year didn’t disappoint. Most heartening was seeing the number of organizations that are not specifically LBGT affiliated who were involved. Several churches marched, and I think this really helps break down barriers on both sides and foster communication to build communities. It wasn’t all positive, one of the first things I saw was a small group protesting the festivities.
They’re certainly within their rights to do so and I’m glad they exercise that civic responsibility. But as I was taking photos one of them started making sarcastic comments, “take a photo, it’ll last longer”, and so on. I said to him, yes, I’m taking your photo, you’re in public, is that a problem? He started quoting the Bible to me and I directly asked, you made a comment about me taking photos, is that okay? He again continued to preach, so I walked away, and realized what their goal really was; they just want to rile people up, incite them to react. This guy talked under his breath to get me into an argument with him so his group could then claim that equality rights supporters were unreasonable. I somehow always suspected this but never experienced it, and want to relay this story so others the future can hopefully ignore them instead of playing that game. What really struck me is that they didn’t even know which side I was on; I had no rainbow pin or anything. One guy just saw they were getting attention and assumed it was from someone opposed to them. I think that says it all.
While I’m being negative, I figure I’d point out the above. Hundreds of copies of this sign were posted around Washington Park, and the typo is unfortunate. I think just gives more ammunition to those against equality. Hopefully it wasn’t a big deal. Along this same token, one of the rhetorical questions I hear when the subject of gay pride comes up is hey, why can’t we have a straight pride parade? Well, the question I would ask back is, would you allow gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals/transgender to march in your straight parade? Because the pride parade features many straight folks marching in support of their brothers and sisters. The entire point is that it’s inclusionary, not exclusionary. Something to remember.
One heartening display was the number of public officials who came out and explicitly supported equality. New York State Senator Neil Breslin and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings both spoke on the subject, and many other representatives were open about their support, as you can see above. While I realize that New York is a very liberal state, it’s still nice to see those with votes on the line publicly stand up for values.
It’s impossible for me to feature all of my favorite photos from the day. I narrowed them down to 44, which is still a lot for me. I highly suggest checking out the slideshow. I walked through the parade staging area, took photos of the parade, then spent a couple hours wandering the event grounds looking for anything interesting. I hope you like looking at the photos as much as I liked taking them. You can view the full set; Sebastien has a great set (including Batman), here’s his slideshow, albany_tim has a great set, and there’s a set from flickr user Bobby’s Photography. I’ll update as I find other photos online. Thanks for reading, and happy pride day.