By Dante Bellotta
The June 7 Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade was a time of celebration and, just as much, a time of reflection. In the June 2014 issue of the Community Alliance, I wrote an article that touched on what is Pride and its meaning to me. To me, it meant a celebration of what we, as the LGBT+ community, have overcome—past and present. From the Stonewall riots to the AIDS epidemic, from civil rights to gay marriage, we have come so far.
So on Pride Day, a number of community members and I set out to ask some fundamental questions to the attendees of Fresno Rainbow Pride. What we got in response was both humbling and affirming: that we know what really is important during this time of jubilation. These are some of their responses:
“Why do we have Pride [parades]?”
“I would say it is to let everybody know that we [the LGBT+ community] are here, basically celebrating who we are because [being LGBT] is not a bad thing despite what so many people still think. It is getting better though!”
“Around the time of the Stonewall riots, it started as a commemoration and evolved from there.”
“We have prides so that we can be out in the open and not in the back alleys, as a habit from our history. We are not a nationality, we are not an ethnicity; we are a community and just like people have Swedish festivals and take pride in that, this is what we have.”
“To come together as kind of a whole community.”
What does Pride mean to you?
“[Pride] means believing in yourself and being proud of who you are. I believe it is a day that you should be yourself for anybody.”
“It is a time to see everyone in the community you don’t normally get to see; people outside the circle and see who is out there. I do this almost all the time, like, I am out all the time everywhere so it doesn’t really matter to me, but it is just for a lot of people to come out and see things…see who is out and about.”
“Pride is being able to be out in public, be yourself, out in the community, letting the community evolve.”
I asked my fellow team member Matthew Benitez of My Lgbt Plus what Pride meant and why he chose to be out at 7 a.m. helping with setup. Here’s his response:
Pride means helping our community. Working with an organization, people know who we are, what we do, how we help and how we give back. I also do this for myself in getting out and being around everyone, being comfortable with who I am as a person, but having pride is just that. Pride is knowing we are accepted by a whole community. It is a nice feeling!
As LGBT+ individuals explore what pride parades mean to them, many believe that having a sense of belonging in a community is important to their purpose in attending Pride parades. It is a time to join together to remember the past and celebrate the present. When we look to the future, we will see, with absolute clarity, that we have each other and know that we are not alone in our struggle to be recognized and acknowledged. We are united in celebration especially during Pride.
Here’s a thought I’d like to leave you with: With the conclusion of Fresno Rainbow Pride, how do we continue this momentum of pride and a sense of community in our everyday lives outside of Pride events? Chime in on the My Lgbt Plus Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/lgbtplus). I’d love to continue the discussion and hear from you about how we keep being prideful! 🙂
Dante Bellota is a supporter of Pride celebrations. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.