Though rain likely suppressed some turnout, thousands still braved the stormy weather to celebrate Durham’s N.C. Pride Fest and Parade on Saturday. Local reports from the Durham Herald-Sun and Chapel Hill’s Chapelboro.com/WCHL offer a good run-down of the events, protesters and celebrity appearances. Snippets below…
News from the region
The vote approving Amendment One and election-year politics were on the minds of the parade spectators and participants. “We lost the battle but our fight is not over,” read a sign on one of the parade floats. Another asked, “Liberty and justice for ???”
Even with Amendment One, a carnival atmosphere pervaded the parade, despite the rain. Randy Jones, the cowboy from The Village People, waved to the crowd as the parade made its way north on Broad Street, west on Green Street, south on Ninth, then back to Main Street. The Beaver Lodge No. 1504 of Durham had their own Marilyn look-alike, 2012 Beaver Queen contestant Marilyn Damho, and they danced their way along the route with the help of the Bulltown Strutters, who gave the event a Mardi Gras feel. Along the route, spectators waved, took photos and cheered. As the parade made its way along Ninth Street, Shannon Kelly gave Marilyn Damho a kiss.
Aaron Keck: Say a little bit about the importance of Pride this year in particular, especially after the Amendment 1 fight.
Mark Kleinschmidt: Well, the last 12 months have been pretty difficult, I think, for the LGBT community and our allies throughout the state. A year ago at this time, the General Assembly voted to put the amendment defining marriage on the ballot for the May primary—we had successfully kept it off the ballot for a long time, and we were very proud of that—and so at that time we were bracing ourselves for what would be the fight of our lives, and unfortunately we were unsuccessful…
But the good news is that we were able to effectively organize in ways that we hadn’t been able to do before. The immediacy of the experience of voting on that amendment, I think, galvanized our community towards now achieving new goals and additional goals—whether they be security around housing issues, employment non-discrimination, (or) continuing to fight at the federal level against the Defense of Marriage Act. I think the energy around these issues now is stronger and the quality of activism is more mature than it ever has been before—and I think a lot of that has to do with the amendment fight last year.
And so I think this year, and in the coming years, our task is to stay together and be strategic in tackling these issues. LGBT families are at greater risk today than they were before May 8, because now we have this refusal of the state to recognize their relationships…and we need to make sure that we find whatever protections we can.
Your thoughts: Is N.C. Pride still a “statewide” Pride?
In his interview with Chapelboro.com, Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said, “This weekend the whole state of North Carolina celebrates Pride.” For many years, N.C. Pride did sere as a de facto statewide event.
What do you think? Is the event still a “state Pride” much like North Carolina’s annual state fair? Has N.C. Pride changed with the rise of so many local Pride festivities (some larger than N.C. Pride) in places like Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Boone, Asheville, Wilmington, Hickory and the Outer Banks? If you live outside of the Raleigh/Durham area, did you travel to N.C. Pride?
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