Rainbow glitter fluttered through the air and stuck to the rain-soaked, crowded sidewalks as a colorful throng marched through the streets of downtown Spokane to celebrate LGBT history and community at the city’s 26th annual pride parade.
Led by a cohort of drag queens, the parade was filled with local LGBT organizations and community allies holding rainbow umbrellas to shield them from the drizzling rain. Llamas in rainbow capes and roller derby girls with rainbow socks and unicorn horns processed along with representatives of local businesses and churches.
OutSpokane Board Director and parade organizer Michael Jepson estimated the parade’s size at around 1,000 marchers, with nearly 2,300 observing from the sidelines.
A number of political figures and hopefuls also attended, including Lisa Brown, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers this fall.
Local performer Jewels Dietrich sat atop the last float in the parade, a black web sculpture with words such as “fear” and “shame” painted in white flowing away from her.
The parade ended with dozens holding a long rainbow flag and a volunteer inviting community members on the sidewalk to march alongside them.
During the procession and around Riverfront Park, pink, blue and white transgender pride flag colors were almost as prevalent as the rainbow flags. Attendee Ricci Pauline Wade said she noticed the parade and pride seem more supportive of transgender inclusivity this year.
She said she transitioned three years ago and thinks that it’s critical to make an effort to attend in support of others.
“I feel like I’m free now,” she said. “So coming down here and watching people express their freedom is very important.”
A group of six protesters stood across from Riverfront Park at the corner of Howard Street holding signs such as “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Wade said that in the past she tried to engage with the counterdemonstrators, but this year she kept contact to a minimum.
“I spent very little time with the protesters this time,” she said. “I only have so much time in life, so I’m not going to waste it.”
Melissa Carpenter watched the parade with her wife of six years, Brandi Carpenter, and their 2-year-old daughter, Jovanna. She said in Spokane, their family has found a supportive group of friends with whom they feel safe and are able to connect, but also with whom they can be open and advocate for having the same rights as everyone else.
Carpenter said it’s important on days like the parade that their family is visible. Moments like these give her hope for the future of their daughter.
“This year, it’s important (to) stand up for what equality should (and) could be,” she said.
Editor’s note: The caption to a photo accompanying this story was changed on Sunday, June 10 to correct the name of an accrobatic troupe that participated in the Pride parade. Their correct name is Vertical Elements Entertainment.
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