Around 300 people showed up Saturday morning to participate in an uptown Athens Pride Parade as a part of festivities for the third annual Athens Pride Fest from June 5 through June 9.
LGBT Pride Month takes place all during June to honor the 1969 Stonewall uprising in Greenwich Village.
Organized by Southeastern Ohio Rainbow Allliance (SEORA), Ohio University LGBT Center and OhioHealth, the 45-minute-long uptown Athens parade encouraged people to celebrate the LGBTQ+ communities.
delfin bautista, board member of SEORA and organizer of the parade, said one of its main purposes was to provide an opportunity for everyone to be open about who they want to be and to make people from the LGBT community visible.
“It’s an opportunity to enter into (the LGBT community’s) world for an hour, if you think about it,” bautista said. “It’s an opportunity to offer support and solidarity with LGBT friends, co-workers, relatives, and just offering support as a whole.”
The parade and the pride festivities were sponsored by Equitas Health, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, Planned Parenthood, El Camino Mexican restaurant, Passion Works Studio and others. Pride flags for wearing and display, safety jackets for parade marshals, the megaphone and other equipment were provided by the Ohio University LGBT Center.
Micah McCarey, interim director of the LGBT Center, said that since the main organizers of the parade, SEORA, have similar goals to the center, it was a pleasant experience to work with SEORA.
“It’s been great that (SEORA) has shown the leadership to organize everything,” McCarey said. “And to just to accept help and request volunteer contributions that would be needed, based on what they have already accomplished. It’s very clear that they’re all very dedicated to their work.”
Some marchers, however, said they’d prefer that people celebrate gay pride year-round instead of just one month. Loran Marsan, assistant lecturer of women’s, gender and sexuality studies at OU, encouraged people to support the LGBT community beyond the parade and not to just show up and party.
bautista said that compared to last year’s parade, this parade had fewer participants because of the Nelsonville Music Festival that was taking place at the same time 20 minutes down the road. (The festival also took time to honor Pride month on Saturday.)
bautista said organizers worked hard to plan a smaller route for the parade after people complained about the route not being accessible last year. So this year’s route started at the north side of Baker Center on OU’s College Green, led up South Court Street, then to East Washington Street and ended at Howard Park.
Adyn Bucher, 15, who uses a wheelchair, said she was excited for this year’s parade and to see a lot of people like her since it was less bumpy and quicker than last year’s parade, which made it difficult for her to march because of the hills.
This shortening of the route helped more people come out to participate and watch the parade. bautista added that parades like these give LGBT people who aren’t out yet a chance to come out and/or see others who are.
“(LGBT people) need time to celebrate,” bautista said. “Not just within our own community but across our communities, and it does take a village to create a change. So, it is an opportunity, focusing, highlighting, centering LGBT folk, not at the expense of other people.”