Though there was much to celebrate at the parade, opposition to the separation of immigrant families surfaced as a major concern. “We can celebrate this beautiful day and look out for our brothers and sisters who are struggling — there’s room for both,” said one paradegoer.
After helping to hand out 15,000 condoms with her daughters, Laura Vega and her family found shade and watched spectacular floats continue to pass by.
The Vega family marched in the 44th annual Seattle Pride Parade with Lifelong, a community health organization supporting those with or at risk of HIV, and one of many organizations and businesses taking part Sunday. “It’s important that contraceptives are normalized,” said Mathilde Vega, 13, noting that she received mostly positive reactions.
For Laura Vega, the parade is an opportunity to “leverage the privilege we have.”
“We can celebrate this beautiful day and look out for our brothers and sisters who are struggling — there’s room for both,” she said.
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The theme “Pride Beyond Borders” was chosen this year to reflect on Seattle’s political history and recognize the “intersectionality in our community,” Seattle Pride President Kevin Toovey said in February. But some paradegoers drew a connection to the current political landscape and the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“It can’t not add a new lens to how we view the event, given what is going on,” said Ryan Driscoll, who attended the parade with his partner, Jonathan Merino.
Parade judge and actress Amanda Bearse noted the importance of giving visibility to the separation of families.
“It’s abominable what is happening. All the more reason that we keep that present even on a day of celebration like this,” Bearse said. ”We’re huddling, we’re masses, and we’re breathing free — especially for those who don’t have the opportunity to live that kind of life.”
Following the roaring start of Dykes That Ride, the Northwest Two-Spirit Society was one of the grand marshals to lead the procession. Two-spirit refers to Native Americans who identify as LGBT.
Judy Chen attended the parade with her son and waved orange cardstock with the message “Immigrant Rights Now. Where are the children?”
“It wasn’t that long ago that gay and lesbian families had our children taken from us by the government,” she said.
Sitting on Daniel Jackson’s shoulders was 5-year-old Ryder, wearing a shirt that said, “I love my dads.”
Jackson said he and his partner decided to attend Pride as an educational opportunity for Ryder, whom they are fostering and hoping to adopt soon. “We want to open up discussion at a young age, and help him recognize and embrace people who are different.”
Aditya Verma, who came to the U.S. a few years ago from India, said he was surprised by the participation of political leaders in the event.
“The government comes out openly to support them,” he said. “It’s just liberating.”
Some parade watchers and participants noted the number of big-name companies that took part. Amazon, Microsoft and Google were among the companies that had big groups marching. When Microsoft passed by, announcers said the company has been “amplifying LGBTQIA voices for over 25 years, creating a force for inclusion at work.”
Alex Neshmonin, a software engineer at Amazon, marched with his company’s affinity group called Glamazon.
“My first mentor at Amazon is gay. He has motivated and changed me in so many ways that I am forever grateful,” Neshmonin said. “This is one way to say we’re with you.”
Fern Wynn, who rode with Dykes That Ride with her partner, Nell Tallos, said she was disappointed by the types of businesses represented in the parade, most of which she says have “nothing to do with rights and queer health.”
“It seems like a marketing ploy,” Tallos said.
Both said they prefer attending the smaller Dyke Pride. “We could expect to see more of our community there,” Wynn said.
“It’s become a little corporatized, and I think that’s why it’s important to remember how this all go started,” said Bex Lipps, referring to the origins of the Pride movement, which involved people from many marginalized communities. Lipps marched with the Downtown Emergency Service Center, which helps people experiencing homelessness.
“It’s a fun party, but there’s a deeper meaning to it, of resistance and community power and celebrating weirdness and differentness,” said Lipps, who lives in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood. “There are a lot of other crises going on in our country, so it feels important to celebrate community and love in spite of all of that.”
Those walking past First Church Seattle were greeted by Peter Jabin and Izzy Alvaran, who offered communion to people on the streets. “A cup of joy and love for you,” Alvaran said as he held out a chalice filled with grape juice for a passer-by to sip.
“A lot of Christians make distinctions and want to exclude, but we’re making the point that all are welcome,” Jabin said.
Alec Gibson and Ted Gobillot wore neon green signs that read “Just Married to Him” that their friends made; the two married last week. “To have a whole city come out and be supportive … it’s the perfect way to start our marriage,” Gibson said.
With the theme “Indivisible,” last year’s parade also drew hundreds of thousands of people. There was one immediately noticeable difference: People at the 2017 parade marched or watched in record-breaking temperatures reaching 96 degrees. On Sunday, the high was 74.
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