Wow, what a Pride weekend! Congratulations Columbus. I want to start this off by showing you a Columbus Dispatch photo that really, really says it all:
A local television station reported there were a few hundred in attendance. I think they missed the mark just a little bit. The unofficial Stonewall Columbus count for the 2 day Festival and for Parade attendance was over 300,000. Columbus Dispatch officials estimated the parade crowd at 206,000. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and yes, many thousands of our straight allies were in attendance at both the festival and along the parade route. More importantly, dozens of corporate Allies were well represented in the parade. You see Best Buy in the photo above. Our group was followed by more than 50 marchers from Huntington National Bank, mostly straight. Other local banks were represented and many other corporations. Some companies do get it right.
There were less than 2 dozen protesters this time around. Each year, as the parade and the attendance grow, the protest group gets smaller. This time, we were treated to all males, seemingly in their mid to late 20s, mostly Hispanic, wearing very militant attire with offensive signs that proclaimed that anyone marching was going to hell…gay or straight it didn’t matter to them. When they screamed at me that I was a degenerate and my God was going to condemn me to hell, I answered simply, “My God is a loving God” to which the shouted reply was, and I quote “Your God is Shit”. My response? “My God is the same as God as your God.” They proclaimed their God to be different. Satan perhaps? How can they judge me and think “their God” will not judge them for it?
Anyway, enough of what was bad about the whole thing and on to all things that were good.
Columbus Pride Festival – Friday, June 15th 2012
On Friday evening we got to the festival around 6:00, in time to catch the band “The August“. They were a talented bunch that we enjoyed immensely.
They were followed by 2 forgettable acts but then, at 9:00pm, the act the crowd was waiting for took the stage, Beverly McClellan. She was well worth the wait!
Now, I’m not a professional photographer and I didn’t bother to cart my camera to the festival. I took those with my phone. I apologize for the quality, especially of the closeup/3rd photo. Just know that she was phenomenal. She broke a guitar string about 3 songs in and didn’t miss a beat as she switched to the keyboard. She also introduced a new song that is scheduled to be released, in a couple of weeks.
The only detractor from her one woman show was the drunk blond that wouldn’t leave the stage after a song where McClellan had asked members of the audience to join her. In fact most that joined her stayed entirely too long but the blond was the worst and began ticking the audience off. A cheer when up when security finally sent her on her way.
We parted ways with a couple friends of mine and the 3 of us headed home after her performance. “The boy” and I had to get an early start for the parade the next day.
Columbus Pride Parade 2012
Saturday morning I got quite a pleasant surprise when my wife got up with me and told me she wanted to spend the day with me regardless of what I was doing. My intent had been to drive her truck in the Pride Parade representing the church I work for part time. My son was walking the parade route with us. My wife actually drove so I could walk with my son. It was quite an experience for all of us to say the least!
Some truck prep photos I took of her and the boy:
The signs we made…that my wife said no one would read. I quit counting the people that photographed it after the first dozen before the parade even started.
Sitting back waiting to do balloons, checking out the neighbors:
Some drag queens heading for their float:
Looking down the street, units were lined up 3 lanes wide for more than 1/4 mile. Here are 2 of the 3 lanes.
The Capitol Pride Band warming up:
The Planned Parenthood crew waiting to go in the staging area. Keep fighting the good fight for women’s heath and rights ladies and gentlemen! Note: On the back of many of their shirts was, “And I Vote“.
Part of the 50 plus person group from Huntington Bank that would actually follow us in the parade and boost our spirits with their cheers whenever they seemed to think we could use a lift. There were a LOT of straight allies walking with Huntington.
Some of our crew waiting to go…In the picture are “Shane” and his golden retriever. “They” would be the photographers for the group shot that follows. Also missing from the group shot are a couple of our group that joined us at the entry to the parade route. We were an almost even mix of gay and straight but the overall crew leaned straight…imagine that!
The parade steps off. We would round the corner thats just in front of our banner bearers in this photo and we would encounter the 2 small groups of protesters that I mentioned before. After that, we would turn onto the main avenue of the parade route, High Street, and enter an amazing world of cheering crowds and a high level of support from most everyone we encountered. While many are not followers of the Christian faith or even believers in any manifestation of God, NO ONE was rude. It was an incredible experience.
Columbus Pride Festival – Saturday, June 16th
We were close to the front of the Pride Parade. When we finished, we dropped walkers back at the church, stopped at home to let the dogs out and then we headed back to the festival. We got there in time to see singer/songwriter Diana Chittester. She bills herself as “She’s the Chitt”. She is. We enjoyed her performance. Check her website out…she has some great videos posted.
Though my son liked Winslow, my wife and I were not so easily swayed and so she and I went in search of food before the billed main event, a performance by Kristine W. Since we don’t go to dance clubs, we were totally underwhelmed when she did perform. She sang very little and danced even less but the gay male under 30 club crowd went ga-ga for her, totally crowding the stage. To each his own!
Unfortunately, things got a little out of order after that and instead of the Cher impersonator who was supposed to take the stage, the Chicago Spirit Brigade did a routine we wanted to see next…to the right of the stage. We were all the way to the left. We saw very little through the thick crowd. We stayed for 2 songs when Wayne Smith took the stage as Cher and then we headed home to relax for a couple of hours.
We joined a few friends for a brew at a very lesbian crowded Slammers Saturday night about 9:00. When they decided to move on to a club…that typically has a line to get in…we decided to head for home.
Our intent was to attend Bat -N- Rouge today but, unfortunately, the first pitch was at 3:00 and it’s been doing more raining than not since 3:00 today. Oh well, it was a great Pride Weekend regardless with 200,000+ of our closest friends!