Amid the waves of rainbow colored flags and shouts of quite literal pride marched an angry group of protestors straight down Elm Street. They carried billboards adorned with biblical scripture, and one preacher lectured about the “evils of sodomy and hypocrisy.”
A boy, not much older than 12, stood before the protestors, people in vests that said “Queers of Anarchy” behind him, and quietly snarked at protestors, “What a compelling argument, eh?”
That was the type of energy with which the streets were teeming during Greensboro Pride Sept. 19. College kids ran around with Pride flags around their necks, superheroes of individuality, laughing mockingly in the face of tradition and those who would oppose their liberation. It seemed like a dream.
Greensboro, like a lot of the country, is at a crossroads. Not everyone thinks the same, and that comes out at events like Pride festivals.
“Greensboro is relatively small, and you’re going to find more acceptance in a place like Charlotte. There are performers, speakers and street vendors in both places, but here you run into some issues that you would not see as much of there. There were some issues that were brought up here, like the Black Lives Matter movement, and queer people of color visibility, and we found those issues to be both effective and relevant, but it made the conservatives tenser than they already were,” said Glitter, a drag queen in a huge blonde hairpiece, about the nature of Greensboro Pride.
She laughed and shrugged, “You can’t please everyone all the time, can you? People should be more open to progress and representation. We should listen to each other more, all kinds of issues. Some people are in something called ‘Queer across the board’, which is similar to being pansexual.”
Glitter said, “I’d like to see more expansion of queer issues here, more hype around some of these things that people are obviously curious about. Tons of people in Greensboro could be helped if we just talk more openly about things that we experience, about things that bother us.”
Dakota, a 24-year-old gay male attendee, spoke about what he would like to see change at Greensboro Pride as well.
“There is not a good reflection on quantity of people who are here. I really thought there would be more people. It [Greensboro Pride] has been one of the better representations, but I still feel like we’re missing a lot of people who I know would be represented by this festival, and by some of the issues being brought up here,” Dakota said. “We were given streets and space, it’s as though the city finally is opening up, giving us an allotted time frame.”
“Last year, we were in a local park, regaled to a small amphitheater. So there most certainly is some improvement. I feel like gay marriage, or the marriage equality ruling, came at the right time. It helps to accept Pride and to have these kinds of events in typically conservative areas,” Dakota said.
When asked where his pride comes from, Dakota said, “It came from when I came out at 14, and I decided that this is who I am, and I pursued my identity with more vehemence around senior year of high school.”
Concerning the intersectional nature of Pride, a girl named Janeen shared her thoughts about being a woman of color and bisexual.
Her answer was simple and frank, “Since I am a woman, people don’t look down on it [being bisexual] and me like they would if I were a male. I feel like, with men, there is still a stigma around it that does not necessarily surround women who are bisexual. I would like to see that change.”
The presence of pansexuals were also strong at pride, a pansexual man who didn’t want to be named said, “This guy asked why I didn’t consider myself bi. There’s so much more to the way that I feel than that. I always knew that there was a difference [between pansexuality and bisexuality]; I never looked at another person and rejected them on the basis of gender or anything. Let people love and be loved in return. The only way to get acceptance from someone for what you do is to accept others for what you do,” said the pansexual man.
Glitter had some interesting closing words as she prepared to ascend the stairs of the concert stage, “I definitely think gay men get more emphasis, transgender/transsexual people are stepping it up though. The goal of Pride is to fight for equal rights for all, or that should be the main goal. There is a bit of disconnect that I see between the LGBTQ community because women and transsexual people don’t get as much recognition and care as other factions of the community do. Disgrace of unmentioned, and the ignoring of trans murders and deaths in the media are our top concerns.”