Saturday, June 19, 2010

Iowa City Pride Parade and Festival

I just got back from Iowa City's annual Pride parade and festival.  They held it this summer at the Ped Mall instead of College Green Park, supposedly to make it more family-friendly or because they failed to reserve the park on time (depending on whom you talk with).  I was a little nervous with the new location.  The Ped Mall has a lot more walk-through traffic.  You pretty much know what you're going to if you're heading to College Green Park.  Not so with the Ped Mall.  But things worked out nicer than I expected.  There was plenty of shade and a nice breeze going on, which was nice given the 85 degree temperatures.

I've marched in the parade in past years as part of my congregation or as part of my lesbian/gay parenting group, but decided that this would be a good year to be a spectator.  I hadn't really noticed protesters before, but we had a trio of religious protesters this year with huge "Got AIDS Yet?"-like signs in a triangle formation at the intersection of Dubuque and Washington.  It was interesting to watch them.  One would engage participants and get into silly confrontations about gays, hellfire, and shrimp.  Meanwhile, one of the others would videotape the exchange.  Then another of the three would engage another participant and this exchange would get videotaped.  This went on over and over until the parade came through.  Once the parade ended, the three packed up their signs and headed off to parts unknown.  I guess we gays should be proud that people care enough about our souls to protest our parades.  Makes you wonder why they don't care enough to protest the University of Iowa's annual Homecoming parades.

The parade was short, but fun.  It was short enough, in fact, that I almost didn't make it from my booth to the parade route.  There were a few convertibles with titled drag queens in them and a group of mustached women shortly after that.  There was also an elaborate "Dorothy Gale"-themed giant puppet towards the end.  There were a bunch of motorcycles, too.  D'Angelo enjoyed the parade and particularly enjoyed the candy that was tossed to him.

I spent the afternoon helping out at my church's booth.  He gave away free bottles of water and cookies, as well as different brochures.  Our most popular attraction, by far, was a rainbow-colored "Gay by God" sticker.  We came with 100 of those.  They were gone within the first hour.  We got a couple chuckles over a little bookmark at our table reminding people that Jesus had two dads, yet he turned out okay.

For the most part, the festival was pretty mellow.  Lots of music, not a lot of speakers.  The Democrats had a booth.  The Republicans wouldn't touch us.  Several churches had their own cookie hand-outs.  One Iowa and Lambda Legal had booths.  There was a nice pet store with a booth, as well as a couple GLBT-speciality merchandise booths.  I met a nice author named Heidi Cullinan, who self-publishes M/M romance and fantasy novels.  I bought one of her books, "Special Delivery" and got on her e-mailing list for future contacts.

Outside the parade, there wasn't too much costuming.  A couple bearish hunks walked through without shirts, but most people had t-shirts and shorts on.  There were lots of kids and dogs, too.  I managed to get pictures of my two favorite costumes of the day.  Both were kind enough to pose for some strange guy on the Ped Mall and for that, I'm greatly appreciative.  :)
It was fun to chat with folks from church and to mingle with friends and potential friends for the afternoon.  The boys enjoyed their time with our new pastor and his wife and seemed to enjoy passing out stickers to people.  Leslie particularly enjoyed running into various kids from his high school, most of whom he hasn't seen for several weeks.

I'd mentioned Des Moines' 2010 Pridefest event earlier this week and how they had several celebrities at their event.  We didn't have TV celebrities, but we did have several politicians at the event and I did get to discuss "Extreme Poodles" with three different folks.  It would be nice to have a Pride event with some star-power, but it's also nice to be content with what you do have.  Many communities our size have nothing when it comes to Pride.  We have a parade and a month of different events.  We have local politicians who support our lives and loves.  We have several churches in our area who are more than happy to hang with a bunch of homos and not feel like we need to be proselytized against.  And we have an active Pride committee that does a lot with a modest budget.  All of this is a lot to be Proud of.  Thanks Iowa City Pride!


Zack said...

Thanks for the writeup of the protesters -- I saw the signs from the parade, but didn't have a sense of how many people were affiliated with them. DID notice the video camera and wondered what that was all about. Clearly they're just looking for sensationalist footage. I had things I wanted to ask them -- like, where are the signs against premarital sex? Where are the signs against adultery, gambling, or getting married when you're not a virgin? Wearing mixed fibers (cotten/polyester blends)? Some or all of which are supposed to meet with death by stoning...

This whole thing where people cherry-pick the issues that make their guts churn and continue doing whatever scripture-violating stuff they please on the side is really annoying.

On the other hand, if I had made any dent in their stance, those protesters would simply have excluded my commentary from the resulting video compilation, and if I had lost focus and gotten upset they would have gotten exactly what they wanted. So, best that I didn't stop. :)

Jon Trouten said...

Thanks for the comments, Zach! The thing is, debating that bunch will be about as effective as them coming with their obnoxious signs. They're not going to take down their songs and join in the celebration if we come up with the perfect counter-argument. Chances are, they've already heard them all. And you're right. They likely would edit your exchange for some purpose later. It's best to just ignore those folks and enjoy the festival.

There was another Christian walking around the Ped Mall yesterday handing out fake million dollar bill with an attached question asking what would happen if you died tomorrow. He chatted with folks, passed out his million dollar bills, and moved on to another conversation with another person. My guess is that his approach is 20 times more effective than the argumentative sign-holders.