Downtown Seattle streets were awash in the colors of the rainbow Sunday as thousands of Pride parade spectators — both gay and straight — jammed the sidewalks along 12 blocks of Fourth Avenue.
Waving flags, some sought shade from the 80-plus-degree midday sun, while others reveled in the heat.
A few parents hoisted children onto their shoulders to witness the dazzle of one of the nation’s largest Pride parades.
Pride comes this year at a time of momentous achievement for the LGBT movement. It’s the first one since Washington voters last November legalized gay marriage and comes days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that had blocked federal benefits to same-sex couples.
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“For us, it’s huge,” said Brittany Tash, who with her partner, Laura Tash, cuddled their 11-month-old twins Teagan and Taylor.
The women, who married in December after meeting in 2009, are stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and came to Seattle to celebrate Pride weekend.
“That will open a lot of doors for us,” Brittany Tash said of the DOMA decision, ticking off many of the federal benefits the couple would have access to.
“And for our kids, it means they don’t have to grow up with a stigma because their moms are gay.”
Laura Tash added, “It’s really a big deal. We’re happy to be on the right side of history.”
From Union Street north to Denny Way, the Pride parade procession covered 12 blocks and featured a range of floats and entries — from Fred Meyer to Seattle Public Schools.
Friends and family of gay and lesbian people wore their support on their backs, while couples held hands, waved rainbow flags and carried signs. One read: “Closets are for clothes, not for us.”
Some spectators came because they love a good parade.
For others the occasion was full of meaning.
Paul MacDonald and his fiancé drove down from Vancouver, B.C., for the weekend celebration. Gay marriage has been legal in Canada for eight years.
“It’s an awesome feeling to be included and accepted,” MacDonald said.
The men say they spend a lot of time in the U.S. and are mindful of the global strides and struggles of the LGBT movement. “We won’t have true equality until everyone in every state has the right to marry,” MacDonald said. “We still have a long way to go.”
From a shady spot along Fourth Avenue, Elizabeth Walker and Jill Speller were enjoying their first Pride Parade in Seattle. The two women became engaged not long before moving to Seattle from Washington, D.C., about four months ago.
They’ve attended other Pride parades but this was by far the largest.
“It feels really good — like you’re in your comfort zone,” Walker said of the vibe.
Speller added, “It’s nice to see so many people who may not necessarily be part of the LGBT community who are supportive,” Speller added. “It’s like having a big warm hug around you.”
Robert Motter, who said he’s gay and just broke up with a longtime partner, said the parade was a good way to get over someone.
In his mid-40s, he said, he’s watched the progress the LGBT community has gained and said the parade seems like it’s “growing up.”
“It’s not so narrow-minded anymore,” talking about the growing diversity and mainstreaming of the event.
He and others speculate that in 10 years, gays would be able to marry in all 50 states. That’s possible now in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
Bliss Daneri never thought she’d see it in her lifetime.
She came to the parade from her home only two blocks away wearing a sign on her backpack that read: “Married but my spouse is visiting her/our grandkids in Montana.”
She and her partner, together 19 years, married Dec. 31. “I think we’re getting to the point where (Pride) will no longer be needed because everybody will have equality,” she said.
At Pine Street and Fourth Avenue, gay-rights supporters confronted a man, who identified himself only as Larry, who held a bible and a towering sign that read: “Sin, Death, Judgement and then Heaven or Hell. Only Jesus Saves.”
Two gay-rights supporters on either side of him held signs with arrows that pointed to Larry. One read: “This guy is stupid.” The other: “*** this guy.” A gay- rights supporter stood behind Larry and waved a rainbow flag.
Larry is a regular one-man protester at Westlake Center but on Sunday was clearly getting more attention than usual.
“I’m not protesting homosexuals,” he said. “I’m just bringing the gospel of forgiveness.”
Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @turnbullL.