Monday, June 27, 2011

What a Weekend! Roanoke Remembers Stonewall, NYC Pride Celebrates Marriage, Chicago Pride Float Tires Slashed, Anchorage Pride Canceled Over Tragedy

Rainbow flag flapping in the wind with blue sk...Image via WikipediaAs the queer universe celebrated the 42nd anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the historic event that kicked the LGBT rights movement into high gear, cities everywhere turned out to celebrate Marriage Equality in New York. Some events were marred by hate and tragedy.

A small crowd gathered here in Roanoke Saturday for the 3rd Annual Stonewall Remembrance Rally. I was honored to be one of the speakers at the event, which included Frank House (Roanoke Equality), Garland Gravely (Fashionista Roanoke), MCC's Rev. Joe Cobb, Roanoke Pride Committee Co-Chair, Sean Avidano, veteran activist Richard Ward and Equality Virginia's Michael Sutphin.

The event actually got some coverage this year in the Roanoke Times, which I cross posted yesterday. Local TV media ignored the event again, even though I sent a personal plea to NewsChannel 10 anchor Jay Warren, who used to be a regular fixture at The Park for many years and who, with his long time partner, never missed Roanoke Pride every September. That is, until he got the anchor gig.

All I ask of you, Jay, is to stop ignoring your own community. You are in a unique position to do a lot of good for a lot of people. Would it have been so hard for you to ask your boss to send a guy with a camera to recognize Roanoke's LGBT community as we celebrate our history... your history? It's 2011, for Christ's sake! What are you so afraid of, Jay?

Meanwhile, up north, New York's Christopher Street was overflowing with jubilation, as Pride weekend kicked off with the news of the passage of The Marriage Equality bill, which Governor Cuomo signed into law late Friday night.

 Chicago's Pride parade was delayed due to vandalism, when organizers discovered the tires of all 51 floats had been slashed overnight. The Windy City Times reports:
In what could be a hate crime, dozens of tires on floats headed for Chicago's Pride Parade were cut with knifes just hours before the Parade Sunday.
Chuck Huser, owner of long-time Pride float provider Assocated Attractions at 4834 S. Halsted on Chicago's South Side, said the floats were fine when he left 8 p.m. Saturday night, but when he returned 5 a.m. Sunday to start preparation for drivers to depart, he found two tires punctured each on more than 30 floats.
"This is catastrophic," he told Windy City Times at 8 a.m. June 26. "This has never happened before, and we have been doing this since 1989."
The attackers [broke] in but did no other damage to the floats, and they took nothing else, leaving Huser to believe this had to be a hate crime. No notes were left.
Huser has filed a police report, but his main focus the morning of the Pride Parade was finding an open tire shop, where they were running back and forth to repair the tires.
The AP reports on a tragedy that resulted in the cancellation of of Anchorage Alaska's pride parade:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A gay pride parade in downtown Anchorage on Saturday was canceled after a convertible carrying the grand marshal fatally struck a man, authorities said.
Anchorage police Lt. Dave Parker said James L. Crump, 50, was killed while participating in the Celebrating Diversity Parade. He said the car accelerated and ran over the man just minutes after the parade scheduled for 11 a.m. started.
Officers "immediately started CPR, but were not able to revive him," Parker said. "He was declared deceased at the scene." Police questioned the driver and authorities were trying to determine whether the collision was caused by mechanical failure or driver error. There was no indication that alcohol was involved.
Grand marshal Doug Frank told the Anchorage Daily News that the convertible's driver had trouble with the car's accelerator. "It ran over a person, totally over," Frank said, sobbing. "This went from one of the best days of my life to the worst."
Organizers told parade-watchers to head to a nearby park where the Alaska PrideFest was taking place. An announcer urged people to clear the parade area to make way for emergency vehicles and police cars. People later held a brief prayer ceremony at the festival.
"It should be a day we're celebrating our diversity, not having to focus on the death of anyone, especially one of our own," said Michael French, who was working at one of the festival's booths.
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