Burlington boasts pride in rainbow parade


Kailey Bates, Staff Writer

Hundreds of people showed off their true colors as they marched down Church Street together, waving rainbow flags and cheering in Vermont’s Pride Parade.

The event kicked off Sep. 10 in the parking lot of the Hood Plant. Rainbows, glitter and smiles were everywhere.

Several organizations, including Ben and Jerry’s, Hannaford’s and different churches held up their banners, showing their support.

Lucy Samara, director of outreach at the First Congregational Church of Burlington, took pictures of her fellow church members holding up their banner.

“We are an open and affirming church, which means we officially celebrate everybody equally and completely,” she said. “Many of the United Church of Christ churches believe that love is love, no matter who you are.”

She looked over at her friends.

“There are some older folks here who have waited– well, I can’t even tell you how long– to celebrate who they are,” she said. “Every year, members share that they never thought they’d be able to step out in public, say who they are and feel loved.”

Emma Charow, a senior at Lyndon State College, marched with friends alongside Johnson State College students.

“Our colleges are unifying to become Northern Vermont University, so we’re marching together to show solidarity,” Charow said.

Charrow, who is cisgender and straight, was happy to share in the celebration with her friends who identify as LGBTQA.

“It’s important to me that I have the ability to support this community which allows my friends to be uniquely and totally themselves,” she said.

Becky Swem, the education and outreach coordinator at the LGBTQA Center, said Burlington residents were exceptionally accepting.

“Growing up, I didn’t have this community,” she said. “It’s awesome that a small state can host a big event like this, showing people just how many of us there are in the community.”

Swem said the parade was important because it gave the local queer community visibility.

Susan Hartman, director of the Pride Center, volunteered to help organize the pride parade, something she’s done many times before.

“I’ve been in parades in Texas, Arkansas, Arizona– all over,” she said. “Phoenix’s parades are huge. They’re about three hours long!”

Hartman spoke of the importance these parades have had not only on her life, but the country overall.

“Pride is about two things: celebrating the fact that we are living authentically, and reminding the country at large that we are here and not going away,” she said. “It reminds everyone that we’re not going to stop working for full equality.”

She looked around at the crowd of people.

“The LGBTQA community is so diverse, but we’re brothers and sisters in this world,” Hartman said. “This is our family reunion.”