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June 29, 07
V 35 Issue 26

 
 
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Pride March
Pride March
by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer

The lack of motorized floats and huge corporate contingents at the Pride March on Saturday, June 23, didn't dampen the spirits of the many thousands who turned out to cheer the march on. About 55 contingents took part in the Pride March, which stepped off at Pike Street and wound its way down Broadway to Volunteer Park. Groups of every kind and color took part, reflecting the diversity of Seattle's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.

As is customary, the Dykes on Bikes kicked-off the Pride March. Several of our state's openly Gay elected officials lead the Pride March. State Senator Ed Murray, State Rep. Jamie Pedersen were the Grand Marchers. They were joined by Seattle City Councilmember's Tom Rasmussen and Sally Clark. Congressman Jim McDermott was also named as a Grand Marcher, but was unable to attend.

Following behind the elected officials, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Washington State, was the Organizational Grand Marcher. In a particularly poignant moment, Murray shook hands with many of the youth marching with GLSEN. He also posed for photographs with the Shorecrest and Shorewood Gay-Straight Alliances, which are part of GLSEN's Washington State Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

Showing great ingenuity, the Tacky Tourist Clubs of America/Seattle Chapter took their human powered entry, an anatomically correct pink poodle, to the next level, having it pulled by muscled men in leather. The naked bicyclists, most wearing extravagant body paint, were also among the most memorable entries.

Aleksa Manila, community activist, and noted female impersonator, and Empress XXXV of The Court of Seattle, emceed from her perch in front of the Broadway Grill. Later, she continued her role as emcee, entertaining the crowd at QueerFest in Volunteer Park between acts.

At QueerFest, the sun beat down on the thousands who attended. They enjoyed the resources, products and displays offered by the nearly 100 vendors who were on-site. As was promised by QueerFest organizers, the event had a diverse line-up of entertainment on two stages; organizational booths; and a wide selection of food vendors and local nonprofits selling soda and snacks.

The line-up of entertainment included popular acts, as well as up-and-coming artists. The Erika Wright Band, Animal Prufrock, Camille Bloom, God-dess & She, Sister Hyde, Beehive, and Alabaster, were among the musical entertainment. Local favorites, such as the Rainbow City Band, the Purple Passion Swing Band, Bad Actor Productions, Sapphire Knight from The Court of Seattle, Chica Boom and the Queen Bees also performed. Spoken word artists from the Bent Writing Institute contributed their works. In addition, Barbara Sehr, Jen Kober and Steven Carriker graced the stage.

A moment likely to be remembered by many who were at QueerFest was when Sister Hyde, a band who performed at last year's downtown Pride Festival, invited members of the audience on stage to dance with them. At the urging of lead singer and lead guitarist Hyde, two men took their clothes off. The "volunteers" joined in a go-go dance that left stunned looks on the faces of some QueerFest attendees and stage managers, who finally demanded the dancers leave the stage.

The Cal Anderson Art Walk, a showcase of art from local LGBT artists co-sponsored by 4Culture, was a new addition this year. And, the popular free outdoor movie screening, presented by Three Dollar Bill Cinema, returned again this year. The movie Hairspray! was shown at dusk. According to Rachael Brister, Executive Director of Three Dollar Bill Cinema, they had the largest crowd yet watching the free outdoor movie presentation.

"Queerfest was a great way for Three Dollar Bill Cinema to reach a diverse segment of Seattle's LGBT community, allies, and many visitors," Brister later told the Seattle Gay News. "By the end of the day we had completely run out of all of our materials we were passing out about the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival."

The event was organized about eight weeks by the Seattle LGBT Community Center, according to Shannon Thomas, the group's executive director. She said the event was a great success. "QueerFest rocked the park all day," she said. QueerFest is all about bringing our community together in celebration and in remembrance of the critical work for equality we still have ahead of us." The events also raised critical funds for the Seattle LGBT Community Center's vital programs, added Thomas. "Net funds raised support Center programs and services, including the LGBT Helpline, Ingersoll, and our fiscal projects," she said.

Despite the fear that four major Pride events during Pride Weekend on Saturday and Sunday would tax the region's LGBT Community physically and financially, the success of all the events proved otherwise. In addition, a whole host of Pride related events, such as the Pride Breakfast, Bend-It Queer Youth Festival and Gay bar events also reported record numbers.

"It was a great example of a community coming out to celebrate Pride," Thomas told the SGN. "If Seattle can rise to the occasion, this past weekend proves that by working together as a community, we can have a great weekend, celebrate our diversity, and engage more people in our vision of equality, acceptance and community."

Thomas said that in light of the success this year, the Seattle LGBT Community Center will be making plans for QueerFest '08.
 

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