Happy Pride! Or is it?
Now, if you’re in Central Ohio, this is Pride weekend in the Capitol city. The festival in Columbus kicks off at 4ish today in Goodale Park, downtown. The annual Pride Parade, this year themed “Allies and Equality” steps off at noon from the corner of Broad and High (adjacent to City Hall and across from the Statehouse). It proceeds north on High to Goodale. The festival gates open at 1:00, if not sooner.
Columbus’ “celebration” is typically seriously themed but a pretty good time for all 150,000-200,000 in attendance. Sure, there are people who protest the parade but the 30 or so of them are largely ignored. No one even bothers to address them. Police officers form a cruiser wall and keep them separate from the parade participants and viewers. The protestors don’t even bother to show up at the Festival anymore and they’re not usually at any of the pre and post-Pride events.
My wife and I comfortably walk around Columbus holding hands. We feel safe and accepted here. Still, Ohio is one of the 31 states that has a Constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. There’s a lot politically that we’re behind on. Is it changing? Yes. Could we use Pride to further the cause? Absolutely!
Compared to many places in the U.S. and around the world, even politically, Pride in Columbus, Ohio is light years ahead in acceptance. Persecution and even death are the norm in cities like Moscow and in countries like Jamaica and Sri Lanka.
The 2009 documentary film, Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride, by Ken Coolen, the Parade Director for the Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada) Pride Society (VPS), documents a full gamut of Pride events in cities around the globe. Some are celebrations of diversity. Others are entirely about civil rights and human rights and still others are outlawed and in places where any sort of overt participation – whether celebratory or for basic human rights – can get you jailed, raped or killed.
The film is a stark reminder of how far we’ve come in some places and how far we have to go in so many others.