Dec 5, 2013
As representatives of LGBT Democrats of Virginia, we travel all around this beautiful Commonwealth of Virginia, educating our fellow equality seekers on their rights, and we have found some of the most interesting people along the way. I wanted to give you a snapshot of the LGBT Pride festivals that we attended.
Recently, we attended the Pride event in Roanoke. As we left Caroline County, where I hang my hat, the sun was just beginning to fade behind the clouds and by the time we got to Roanoke, the clouds were in complete control. That is when I began to get worried. The building cloud cover brought the possibility of rain marring the next day’s Pride event. It was not until after we got the motel room, and were able to see the weather channel, that I realized the Pride event could be a total washout. A large cold front, with heavy rain, was just starting to enter the western part of Virginia, and it was big enough to cover the entire state.
Knowing that we were going to be hit with a good dose of Mother Nature, we were up and out by nine o’clock the next morning. We rushed to set up our tent and display, trying to keep our material handouts from the threatening rain. The clouds were rolling down the mountain, the air was heavy with moisture and as the public began to arrive, so did the rain. At that point, I was betting that we would not survive the day. A few people rolled in every time the rain turned to mist. There were thousands of people there by two o’clock with umbrellas and rain gear, but most in whatever outfit they were wearing that day. The majority of people were in their late teens to early twenties, and the rest were a mixture of ages. All the letters were represented, L, G, B, T, Q, A,…XYZ, and I was surprised at the number of straight allies that came out in support of the cause. The Roanoke Pride in the Park annual event aims to promote acceptance, visibility, and a sense of community in the Southwestern Virginia LGBT community. This event featured vendors, music, and games. The twenty-four plus venders were slow to show up, but as the word got around that the place was jumping, we had more venders than had originally signed up.
We were there encouraging young and old to register and vote. We explained why it was important to vote, and we got quite a few people registered. The younger attendees were full of questions about their rights. They wanted to know why the government thought it had the right to control their personal lives, and what they need to do to help change the way the government operates. Most were in an upbeat mood and just wanted to let their freak flags fly. Everyone was eager to be with friendly and like-minded people. Here they could be themselves and not have to hide who they really are, out of fear of reprisals. At one point in the afternoon, I realized that the rain was actually helping us by bringing more people into our tent, and the best part is that they stayed to listen to what we had to say. My observation of how these events have grown over the past few years, leads me to believe that our movement is well on its way. I am not saying that we can start to feel comfortable or ease the push on our agenda for equal rights. I am encouraged by the numbers of people that see our progress, and stand up to speak out.
The only down side to the event were the Religious fanatics who walked the grounds most of the day. They were going around to every tent, waving the Bible and screaming that God hates homosexuals that we were all sinners, and that being homosexual was a choice, which we could change, if we would just repent. The police asked us to try to ignore them as much as possible, but there was a moment when it was not possible, and one of our LGBT brothers went to jail for punching a minister in the face. The minister apparently insulted his mother who was attending.
Prides are popping up in places that people hardly knew existed. It was only a few months ago that Floyd Virginia had a Pride celebration. The event started with a parade, which left the post office at four o’clock and proceeded down the sidewalk to the big tree and then on to Main street where they stopped at the DogTown Roadhouse to be greeted by the Mayor and other speakers. After the speeches, the band, Spoon Fight, concluded the program with some disco / boogie jive before closing at 6:00,…. and it was over. This is history in the making! You cannot make this stuff up!
As the winds of change shift and our deeds pen the pages of history, what will you have written, when the ink is dry?