|Sean presents the Lambda Service Award to Deanna from the Backstreet Cafe.|
|(L to R) Leland Albright, Dolly, Sean Avidano, Steven Matzie.|
|Heading out of Elmwood Park in a march for LGBT Equality|
I saw lots of old friends and some new ones too, along with some impressive talent on stage. Entertainers included the MCC Choir, Josh Dickerson, Carol Plunk, Joe Kraft, Kelly King, Mike Rickard and many more. Hosting duties were shared by Pride Committee members Sean Avidano and Ashly Adams (in her boy clothes).
Maybe it's just me, but it looked like there were more booths this year too. Vendors included The Virginia Mountain Bears (Woof!), The Rogues Levi and Leather Club, (ouch!), authors Beth Wilde and JM Snyder, Len Rogers of the Stonewall Society and so many more. As always, the Deb's Frozen Lemonade van was there to help beat the heat.
For the second year in a row the festival included a march. Not a big fancy parade with floats, but an honest to goodness protest march. This year it was led by Frank House of Roanoke Equality and I have to honestly say that I was so proud of the local community for the shear numbers of people that participated. There must have been about 200 people in the march.
The route was just a short trip around the block, but it was visible, it was political and it was in downtown Roanoke! So many young people and some veteran activists and community leaders as well.
One of the new groups that made it's first appearance at Pride was Southwest Virginia Transgender Support. I had the chance to chat with some of the organization's members at there booth. They are, naturally, very shy about publicity, although two of their members, Leland Albright and Dolly, did get up and speak to the crowd about their activities. I invited them do an interview or to submit stories for posting. I hope they can do either one. The trans community has been so overlooked in our community. As Leland told the crowd today, "The 'T' is not silent."
|(L to R) Jordan, Michelle, Ben, Shayna and Josh gave away free hugs.|
Roanoke Mayor David Bowers was also in attendance at the festivities. I had the chance to catch up with him and talk politics for a few minutes. We were both dismayed by the lack of a Democratic challenger to Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte in this year's election. Goodlatte is notoriously anti-gay.
This brings me to one of the high points of the afternoon. I stopped by the booth of Goodlatte's Libertarian challenger, Stuart Bain. It was refreshing to see a political candidate reaching out to the Roanoke LGBT community and I applaud Mr. Bain for attending our annual celebration.
I asked him where he stands on marriage equality. His response was straight from the Libertarian platform. He told me that he is in favor of a flat tax that would be equitable for all citizens regardless of marital status and that government should not be involved in sanctioning marriages which he and his party believe should be left to the churches.
I reminded Mr. Bain that there are over 1,100 rights and responsibilities that are granted by a marriage certificate and that the church has no legal authority to bestow those rights on anyone. He countered that he and his wife were married in a church and that it was perfectly legal. (WTF?)
|Authors JM Snyder and Beth Wyld|
I responded that marriage has always been a civil contract intended to ensure the legitimacy of offspring, property and inheritance rights and that the church only became involved in the marriage ceremony during the middle ages. I told him that his position was just a way of washing his hands of the issue by offer a "solution" that does nothing to ensure equality for taxpaying LGBT Americans. I also told him that he was abdicating his responsibility as a potential political leader. Man, that was fun.
The bottom line is don't vote for Stuart Bain, or any Libertarian, just because you don't like Bob Goodlatte. He is no friend of the LGBT community and had no business even being at Pride.
It was another great success for the Roanoke LGBT Community and congratulations to the Pride Committee for what seems to be the best Pride Festival ever. I'll try to figure out how to post a slide show of more pics using Picasa.