Saturday, May 1, 2010

Pride Before The Spring

It's one of those events that absolutely pack the streets of Northampton.

I stumbled upon the annual Gay Pride Parade several years ago when heading home after a morning coffee, the police suddenly blocked the intersections and a small but boisterous string of LGBT folk came parading up Main St. The whole thing seemed kind of impromptu and patchwork; and it looked like many of the people along the sidewalks were similarly amused at the ragtag display, but paused to watch and cheer them on.

It's not so little anymore.

This has become a parade proper like any other, and people early and eagerly stake out their posisitons on the side walks and traffic islands. All eyes down the road and under the railroad bridge.

Just like the first time I saw it they came marching in from the other side of that bridge, but this time they were preceded by the thunder of Harleys.

Lesbian biker clubs plowed the way...

...with Mayor Higgins and the govt' close on their heels.

Many of the contingents had the political quandaries of the day on their minds and were using the parade as bully forums to put their points across.

Others fought older fights that were probably closer to their personal lives.

The Roller Derby set were on the move showing their support in their own rough and tumble way... were those with more refined sensibilities.

Others, they just shook what they had.

The now grown-up parade is sponsored by many local business and institutions, with banks, churches, large companies like Baystate Health and several colleges like Mount Holyoke and Westfield sending in their troops to support the cause. Like it or loathe it, over the past few decades the LGBT culture of western Mass has indelibly climbed several rungs higher in the ladders of society and media.

And to show they're staying, they brought their dogs with them.

They're here, they're queer, and they're getting bigger. Just ask Cher.

The Diva ushered in the transvestite and transgender groups; and that's when things got weird.

We were finally brought back down to Earth or close enough to it via the now seemingly tame Time Warp. Again.

It's just a jump to the left...

The final elements of the parade were a jumble of a little bit of everything, moving en masse towards the festival area...

...where the party rocked on.

Here's some video clips scotch taped together, for a sense of sound and movement:

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