The cold, dreary weather did not stop the annual MU LGBT Pride Parade on Wednesday, April 30. Allies and LGBT community members alike turned up for this loud and proud event.
Richard Thompson, an open LGBT community member, could be seen in the rainbow mass, holding a sign that said “We were born like this … AWESOME.”
He said he didn’t make the sign, but thought it held a powerful message to the public.
“Rather than hide or run away with our sexual orientation, we celebrate it,” he said. “It’s not bad, it’s not wrong. It’s awesome.”
The parade started at the circle fountain outside the MU Student Center. It stretched down ninth street and spilled over the Francis Quadrangle in front of the columns. Then, they marched to Tiger Plaza, where they placed the balloon arch over the monumental tiger statue.
“On campus, we identify ourselves as One Mizzou,” LGBT ally Gabby Rees said. “We should, as a (campus) family, have a place to support everyone of any gender or affiliation.”
Rees and her friend and fellow ally, Hailey Ragan, said they attended the Queer Monologues, which was held last weekend. They said they wanted to support the familiar faces they saw at the monologues.
“Being that (MU is) such a huge campus with so many organizations, I think events like (the Pride Parade) are a good way to … raise awareness,” Ragan said.
Senior Bailey Crosswhite came out last August. Since then, she said she has felt more comfortable both in her shoes and attending events like Pride Parade.
“I (attended the parade) last year, I was shy and by myself,” she said. “I saw this girl, who was really cute.”
Crosswhite said she couldn’t find the courage to talk to her. Fortunately for her, the girl showed up at a hall staff meeting for the upcoming year.
“We ended up working together and, during training in August, we started dating. I love this parade. It’s very sentimental for me.”
“(The Pride Parade) helps raise visibility and raise awareness and show our campus how supportive we are of everyone,” LGBTQ Resource Center Coordinator Struby Struble said.
She added that, before she became coordinator two and a half years ago, there were smaller, unofficial parades that happened on campus.
Struble said the center got the word out about the event by advertising heavily on campus. They made posters, used their social media sites and even worked with campus colleagues to get go-carts for the event, which some parade participants drove around in during the event.
The LGBT rights movement started receiving the majority of its national coverage after the Stonewall riots in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City in 1969.
The Stonewall riots were a series of demonstrations by the LGBT community that turned violent against a police raid of Stonewall Inn.
Today, the demonstrations are solely credited as the biggest gay liberation movement in U.S. history.
“(Pride Parades) very much keep the movement of the gay and trans rights in focus for the dominant culture to see,” junior Kory Hayward said. “We are not going to go away. We do deserve equal rights and equal protection under the law.”
Hayward is also the LGBT Caucus Treasurer for the Young Democrats of America. He made a sign for the parade, which, he said was to let MU know YDA stands with its LGBT community.
Columbia community members were also present at the parade. Among them was Scouts for Equality member Howard Hutton, who stood out in his Scout’s uniform with “No H8” printed on his left cheek.
Hutton said he was there to support individuals that have been rejected from the Boy Scouts of America for being openly gay.
“We can’t live without the gifts that our gay brothers and sisters offer,” he said. “It diminishes everybody. We don’t have enough room or time for that diminishment anymore. It’s too much torture in too many peoples’ lives.”
Hutton said he was hesitant to call himself an “LGBT ally."
“I call myself a decent, caring human,” he said. “It’s painful that we still even have those labels. Yeah, I guess I’m an ally, but that’s probably not fair to my common humanity and everybody else’s.”