Hundreds “come out” for day of Pride

 

On the surface, the idea of Ògay prideÓ has traditionally and popularly conjured images of Lady Gaga, rainbow attire and drag queens for some. But what about Stonewall, the transgender community or a city like Burlington?

Over the past week, tourists and Burlington residents alike came out to participate in Pride Vermont, a series of events held to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1960Ñthe unofficial catalyst for the LGBTQA movement.

What is Pride? Simply put, itÕs Òa celebration of the queer community,Ó Executive Director of Outright Vermont Melissa Murray said. ÒItÕs a celebration of all the good things there are about being queer.Ó

Hundreds gathered Sunday to watch the festivities.

People of all agesÑdressed in everything that included plain, everyday clothes, supportive t-shits and flashy rainbow garbÑwatched from in front of storefronts as the parade went down Church Street.

At the tail end of the parade, a truck with three drag queens passed by with a crowd formed behind them and drove to Battery Park where they were greeted by the start of the parade and the the festival.

Marching in the parade on Sunday were around 23 groups, ranging from local activist groups such as Outright, national groups such as Ben and JerryÕs Ice Cream and others that included Burlington Rugby and local roller derby team the Green Mountain Derby Dames.

UVM was also included in the parade, with roughly 32 students marching as well as 15 members of the UVM College of MedicineÕs Gay-Straight Alliance

ÒIt is a chance for queer people to come together and see that there is a queer community and so, feel less isolated. It can be challenging to live in rural Vermont and not have other queer identified folks around,Ó Micah Barritt, director of program for Outright Vermont, said.

In past years, Pride has been held in June, the same month that the Stonewall riots took place. But this year the Pride committee took advantage of VermontÕs busy autumn tourism as well as the start of the college semester, allowing students such as Audrey Pfeffer to participate as a volunteer and experience something new.

ÒIt is really cool because IÕm from Virginia and in the town that I live in, there arenÕt really events like this,Ó First year, Pfeffer said. ÒI feel like it shows that people can express themselves freely.Ó

ÒI think its just a chance for people in the greater Burlington area and other areas and from UVM, to just get together and have a good time,Ó said sophomore and program director of the LGTBQA Collaborative Dominic Kennet.

Parts of Vermont have been perceived as a haven for the LGTBQ community since the state was the first to legalize same-sex civil unions in 2000 and then later legalized gay marriage in 2009.

The results of the most recent U.S Census data shows that roughly a quarter of VermontÕs same-sex couples live in Chittenden County, making up 1.1 percent of VermontÕs total households.

Dana Kaplan, Outreach VermontÕs director of education, said that many people who identify as queer do not feel safe or accepted in their daily lives. Having one week, or even one day, of the year for them to be celebrated is important, she said.

ÒItÕs a chance for the community to come together and be visible and let the world know that there are queer folks out there and just to get to celebrate that. Thats what I think Pride is all about,Ó she said.