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Community shows pride with annual parade

In downtown Spokane on Saturday, same-sex couples walked comfortably hand-in-hand through the streets. Many people wore rainbow-colored clothing and some dressed in drag; a couple of tiaras sparkled in the sunshine.

It was all part of the 18th annual Spokane Pride Parade and Rainbow Festival organized by OutSpokane. The event drew hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and questioning people, as well as straight people showing support. Families of different shapes and sizes enjoyed the day, with jumping castles for the kids and many parade entrants passing out candy.

Spectator Jonathan Adams said he came downtown to support his people and his culture. It also was a great way to have fun after finals week at Spokane Community College, where he is a student.

Adams said he was impressed with the entry of Bethany Presbyterian Church. A group of churchgoers walked through the parade wearing T-shirts exclaiming, “Straight, Not Narrow,” and handed out candy to the crowd.

“It’s hard for us gay people to be accepted by the religious community,” Adams said. “That’s amazing.”

The parade also included entries from the Odyssey Youth Center, the Lilac City Roller Girls and the burlesque troupe Pasties & Paddles.

There was also the Giant Ass Drum Corps, a group of 18 women using inverted buckets as drums, led by Stormi Oshun.

Oshun said she started the group 10 years ago, when OutSpokane was looking to change the event from a march to a parade.

She had seen the performance group Stomp and thought, “OK, I’ll bring a band.”

She said playing on the buckets makes joining the group financially accessible to its members, who started out as a mix of men and women, but are now all women. The group is open to all sexual orientations. Picking the name was purely an adolescent impulse, Oshun said.

“It’s about the size of the band, not about the size of the booty.”

Saturday’s parade was all about celebrating for Oshun.

“(You are) putting your whole true self out there in the world.”

The Odyssey Youth Center brought about 50 members.

Their leader, Sandy Williams, said the kids were excited to participate.

“It’s a chance for them to be seen and heard,” Williams said.

After the event, parade entries and spectators headed to the Gondola Meadows at Riverfront Park for the Rainbow Festival, a day of music, food and information booths.

Several couples participated in a group civil commitment ceremony – which has added meaning for some since Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law Senate Bill 5688, which expands the state’s domestic partnership law to grant same-sex couples most of the rights and responsibilities of spouses.

Forms were available for couples wishing to register their domestic partnerships with the state. A notary public was at the event as well.

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