WEST HOLLYWOOD—Risqué costumes, boisterous after-parties and general debauchery usually dominate reportage on LA PRIDE festivities. To newcomers, the celebration’s essential mission is overshadowed by the pomp and circumstance.
This year’s PRIDE parade was perhaps the largest, most diverse and family focused event in years, reflecting the serious and important nature of the festivities as a commemoration of the vast strides the LGBTQ community has achieved. Initially, as a first time participant, I found it difficult to see past the showy elements of the festivities, that is, before I heard the dynamic voices of individual marchers. Throughout the parade procession I, along with two other interns Joshua and Anthony, conducted interviews with fellow participants and spectators, asking them: "If you could say something to the Supreme Court ahead of their decisions on Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, what would you say?"
We heard from the courageous GSA students of Sultana High School we helped as well as mothers, grandparents, coworkers and friends who are dedicated to the LGBTQ community and issues. The wide variety participants we spoke to and their extremely powerful messages rendered my first LA PRIDE experience unforgettable. Early on in our interviews, we came across a brave American who was separated from her wife due to immigration laws and DOMA restrictions. Another participant we interviewed was a teenager who recently came out marching with her supportive father, hoping to one day have the right to marry. An interview that particularly struck me was that of a man recounting the devastating financial and emotional harm he and his friends endured in the wake of the death of his ex partner, as a result of California’s unfair marriage laws. Among the array of interviewee accounts, a common thread ran through each marcher’s message to the Supreme Court, an idea aptly expressed by a young marcher who simply said, “My love is no different than yours, acknowledge it”.
After our rallying chants had ended and all sections of the walking human pride flag had made their way down Santa Monica Boulevard, the varied voices and individual stories we heard in our interviews served as a compelling reminder of what we were all marching for. As we go into the celebration of Pride month this June and festivities are carried out across the country, it is important to remember why we come together as a community and what these celebrations stand for. The responses we encountered proved that the right to love and the right to marriage is one important step in the right direction for LGBTQ equality.
View photos of ACLU/SC at L.A. Pride 2013
Blog by Jeannine Ventura, Strategic Partnerships Intern; interviews conducted by Anthony Barros, Community Engagement and Policy Advocacy Intern; and videography and production by Joshua Cahn, Strategic Partnerships Intern