A month before their scheduled nuptials, Kath’ren Bay and Alexis Higdon stood side by side in a flatbed truck rolling down Main Street, clutching signs thanking the state of Washington for allowing the couple of 20 years to marry.
“We’ve got it all set,” Bay said, beaming before her appearance in Spokane’s 22nd Annual Gay Pride Celebration. “Family’s coming from all over the country.”
Bay and Higdon appeared for the first time in Spokane’s parade since moving to the area last year. This year’s theme, chosen by OutSpokane, was “Equality Marches On,” referencing Washington voters’ decision to legalize gay marriage in November and the tasks that lie ahead, OutSpokane chairman Blaine Stum said.
“Even though we’ve made those victories, there’s still work to be done,” Stum said. “We still have to keep marching to do it.”
The parade kicked off in traditional fashion, with the Dykes on Bikes motorcycle club leading marchers and floats east on Main and winding their way through downtown. Club member Barb Lee, who has been around for each of the celebrations, said participation has grown each year. She hadn’t held out hope that marriage equality would be achieved in her lifetime.
“I never thought I’d see this,” Lee said. “I thought maybe the next generation, but not me.”
The Inland Northwest Bears, a club of bearded gay men “who don’t live in the gym” and meet socially outside the bar scene, according to group co-founder Steve Scott, marched behind the motorcycles. Diesel Daisy and the Buckettes provided musical accompaniment, beating five-gallon plastic buckets with drumsticks wrapped with rubber bands.
“Two, four, six, eight, how do you know your neighbor’s straight?” the group chanted in time, earning cheers from the hundreds assembled along the parade route.
Not all attendees supported the marchers. A group of 15 to 20 protesters with religious signs, Bibles and bullhorns congregated in Riverfront Park. They exchanged words with paradegoers, but there was no violence.
Bay said she’s proud to reside in a state that has made the decision “to go in the direction our country needs to go.”
“We’re just proud to be Washingtonians,” Bay said.