*Iowa State Daily column by Ian Timberlake*
On June 30, 2013, I participated in my first LGBT Pride Parade. My day started out by waking up at six in the morning, picking up a couple of friends, riding the Metro into Chicago’s loop on a beautiful summer Sunday morning and preparing for the world’s single greatest celebration of equality.
The train ride into the city was full of rainbows and glitter. People were pouring into Chicago from all directions, at every moment of the day, via every mode of transportation and it became quickly apparent that the easiest way to navigate from the Metro, to the Loop, to Boystown was to simply “follow the rainbows.”
So, we followed the rainbows. We boarded the elevated rail for north Chicago’s Belmont Avenue and walked off into a sea of fabulousness. One of the first things I saw was two women sporting nearly-nude pairs of breasts, confidently walking by a gaggle of Chicago police officers. The next thing I saw was the bare behind of an equally confident man.
To Belmont, the train car we chose happened to be full of mostly female high schoolers all decked out in Pridewear – in less clothing than their parents would care to see. While scoffing at the brace-faced, underwear-clad 14-year-old, I was simultaneously thinking about what freedom means to an adolescent growing up to inevitable adulthood. I became lucid in the idea that that experience could be pivotal in their maturing.
Those who have long matured and are old enough to be the grandfather of said 14-year-old have already lived a lifetime of marriage and sexual discrimination, whether they were straight or not. Between the older generation and the pubescent, age mattered little, and everyone revelled in the celebration of freedom.
Walking through the crowd of more than one million people, the fascination continued. In the same cluster of people, there would be a typical suburban-esque family talking with a “Dykes on Bikes” couple and a transvestite. If you have a better example of breaking barriers, I’d love to hear it.
I was happy to see parents taking children as young as 3 years old to Pride. It shows there is hope for a future America that will be less discriminatory and offer more freedom than ever before. These children will grow up knowing that a straight person is not better than a gay person, and that marriage and sex is not controlled nor defined by heterosexuals.
Pride is not exclusively a celebration of the LGBT community. Predominantly it is, and is definitely how it started 44 years ago in Chicago, but it has since evolved into a celebration of freedom and human rights. Natural born rights of love and freedom of expression as well as the desire for removal of victimless crimes are what define Pride.
The Pride Parade is the be-all-end-all form of public displays of freedom; I would even argue that you’re not a true American until you’ve been to a Pride parade or minimally entertained the idea.