Fun reigns at Pride fest
Gay-themed events bring colorful crowd
The Atlanta-Journal Constitution
Published on: 06/25/07
Australian Robert Tarasov has attended gay pride celebrations around the world. Atlanta's, he says, is among the best.
"It's unreal," said Tarasov as he surveyed the hundreds of floats before Sunday's Atlanta Pride Festival parade. "It's totally exceeded my expectations."
|The rainbow flag of gay rights is carried down Peachtree Street during the 2007 parade in Atlanta on Sunday. The theme this year was ÒOur Rights, Your Rights, Human Rights.Ó|
|Anya Maleknasri, 23, of Virginia wears her special top Sunday at the 2007 parade by AtlantaÕs gay and lesbian community.|
About 300,000 people were expected to attend the three-day festival, which concluded Sunday night. Half of them, it seems, were in the parade.
Some wore leather. Others glammed it up in taffeta. Some were grandmothers. Some line-danced, declaring, "I can't even two-step straight."
"You're not going to see this kind of diversity anywhere else," said Owen McCord, 31, of Atlanta. She was on a float promoting the Court of Kings, a coterie of "drag kings."
"We're like one huge family," she said.
And the family is open to all.
"Pride is not just about gay folks," said Kindle Powell, 26, of Atlanta. Powell was one of the "Straight Women in Support of Homosexuals" marching in the parade.
"For me, it's about celebrating my friends, showing them my support," she said.
Billee Pendleton-Parker has been coming to Atlanta Pride "for more years than I can remember." An administrator at Georgia Tech, Pendleton-Parker, 55, said the next generation is much more open-minded about homosexuality.
"They're like 'so what,' but in a good way," she said. "I think the movement has been mainstreamed, but a visible show of support is critical. We've moved very far, but there's still a long way to go."
With the festival in its 37th year, some participants worry that Pride has become more about partying and less about making a statement.
"There's a lot of education needed, both for the gay community and the straight community," said John Paul Griffin, 30, of Atlanta.
"Is it a protest or a party? I don't even think we know the answer to that," said Robert Bryant, 36.
Bryant rode a bike in the parade, with large photographs of Coretta Scott King and daughter Yolanda — both of whom died within the last two years — mounted on the back.
"We lost two really good friends to our community, and I thought it was important for us to say thank you," Bryant said.