Today, San Francisco, the most gay friendly city in the world, celebrated the 38th annual Gay Pride Day with a traditional parade and festivities. Amen. The parade, which was led by the mayor and other top politicians, was the first since gay marriages were successfully legalized in California. Its about time.
And while there is no other place in the world like San Francisco, and it is the home of Gay Pride Day, it is certainly not the only place where this festive event is held. Although elsewhere, the event may not have been quite so festive.
Many other cities celebrated pride on Sunday as well, including Paris and New York, where Gov. David Paterson recently told state agencies to provide full marriage benefits to same-sex couples legally married elsewhere.
Some overseas events were decidedly different. In the Bulgarian capital of Sofia and the Czech Republic city of Brno, protesters threw rocks and eggs at parade participants. And in India, hundreds chanted for gay rights just days before the Delhi High Court is expected to hear arguments on overturning the law against homosexual sex that dates to the British colonial era.
As is traditional, leading the parade was Dykes on Bikes. Is that the coolest name for a motorcycle club or what? But in addition to their normal leather and steel, some wore white and pink wedding dresses and veils, much to the delight of the crowd. That crowd was made up of people, gay and straight, from all over the US.
Some visitors expressed surprise at the sheer size and diversity of San Francisco’s event. River Byrd, 48, and his partner, 41-year-old Mark Duncan, watched the parade before catching a plane back to Tennessee, where they live in a small, conservative town called Paris.
“It’s so incredible to see this many gay people,” Byrd said. “We’re the buckle of the Bible Belt. If we held hands in public, we’d be beat up.”
At the risk of sounding regionally racist, I’m not surprised to hear that remark considering the area. In any case, it was a great day for equality and justice. It’s just a shame that it only occurs in small pockets within a country that was founded on those two principles.