First-ever MU Pride Parade raises awareness for LGBTQ issues

The parade was sponsored by the MU LGBTQ Resource Center.

Amid rainbow flags and an air of excitement, a large gathering of members of the LGBTQ community, including its allies and Truman the Tiger, marched for acceptance and equality at the LGBTQ Resource Center’s first official Pride Parade on Wednesday afternoon.

The parade marchers held up a wide variety of signs, each one declaring equality or fair treatment in a unique way.

Leading up to the Pride Parade, the LGBTQ Resource Center created a PowerPoint featuring examples of signs from marches and parades, all of which came from different eras and movements. LGBTQ Resource Center Coordinator Struby Struble said the PowerPoint was shown in the center’s lounge, Four Front meetings and the RSVP Center.

“We were trying to show that the parade is open to everyone, except haters,” Struble said. “The signs and their messages don’t have to be LGBTQ-themed. It can be proud of anything or send any sort of message. We’ve been very purposeful in trying to get everyone there.”

At the parade, one glittery sign said, “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like mine?” Sophomore Kelsey Kupferer created the sign with her girlfriend and decided to march in the parade to support the LGBTQ community, considering herself an ally of the community as well as a part of it.

“There are a lot of LGBTQ students at this school, along with a lot of allies,” Kupferer said. “It’s a great community to be a part of and hopefully one that is accepted on this campus.”

MU faculty and members of the community marched alongside students in the parade to show their support.

“This parade gives visibility and takes away some of the stigma,” Director of Mental Health Services Deborah Wright said. “It communicates that it is normal and that there is nothing to be ashamed of and that there are a lot of people who are supportive of it.”

The Pride Parade comes toward the end of a month-long celebration called Pride Month, which is a month of events that works to raise awareness and provide education about the LGBTQ community, Struble said.

“Personal connection makes a really big difference,” Struble said. “For people who maybe have anti-LGBTQ feelings, once they see us, it’s harder to hate us. Once they realize, ‘Oh, you’re just a student between classes. So am I,’ it humanizes us.”

Activist Kate Bornstein led the parade as the Grand Marshall. In addition, Bornstein was the keynote speaker of Pride Month, delivering a speech Wednesday titled, “Sex, Bullies and You.”

“I’m thrilled to be the Grand Marshall,” Bornstein said. “You know, when you’re an old lady, you take honors really seriously.”

Led by Bornstein, the parade started at Brady Fountain, marched through Speakers Circle, snaked around the quad and eventually ended in Kuhlman Court, all the while being loud, holding up colorful signs and having a good time.

“Through this parade, I want to communicate that you need to do anything and everything to make your life worth living, just don’t be mean,” Bornstein said. “You can love whoever, wherever, any way you want, just don’t be mean."

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