Gay Pride Continues Into Autumn
While cities in colder climates had their Pride events in the late spring and through the summer, warmer regions are still celebrating, allowing the Pride season to extend into the autumn.
Fort Myers, Florida was one of several cities to celebrate Pride after Oct. 1, with the Southwest Florida Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival taking place on Oct. 9. The event was an exuberant marker for how far LGBTs have come in a short time, an article that same day at News-Press.com reported.
"This community has changed dramatically," 26-year-old Melissa McKee, who grew up in Fort Myers, told the publication. "Look at today. Instead of this festival being held in the back woods, we’re here front and center on a street."
The article took note of the fact that two gay men in the nearby town of Immokalee had recently been targeted for an attack by a mob of five young men.
"It was right in the middle of the street," Manuel Galan, 27, told local newspaper the Naples Daily News. "People were walking all around us. No one stopped. No one did anything.
"It hurts me," Galan said, adding. "I knew some of the people."
By that, he meant that he knew some of the men who allegedly launched the attack, which included punching and kicking, accompanied by anti-gay epithets and death threats.
Galan is gay, and so is his 21-year-old friend, Cirildo Soliz. The two are not a couple, but that didn’t matter to the mob of five men that attacked them. Local authorities say that the assault may have been a hate crime, but also said that the attack may have been gang-related.
The two men told authorities that they were simply walking along the street when the five attackers beset them without cause. After the men finished kicking and punching the two victims, Soliz said, one of the assailants told him, "I’m going to kill you and I know where you live."
Police have made four arrests in the case, the News=Press article noted. Moreover, "hate crimes are rare in Southwest Florida, according to the most recent Lee and Collier County Sheriff’s Office statistics submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement," the article noted.
The festival drew a crowd of over 2,000, the News-Press article said.
In Atlanta, Georgia, the first Pride to take place in the city following the repeal of the anti-gay law that banned military service by openly gay and lesbian patriots marked a new stride toward full legal equality by including gay active servicemembers, reported local news channel WSBTV on Oct. 9.
A retired Army officer, Joe Stiano, told the news station, "[F]or the first time this year, we had active duty people march with us." Stiano pointed out the innately corrosive nature of the anti-gay law, saying, "The law was requiring people to go against their oath to have integrity and not lie, and yet people had to lie about who they were and live two lives."
Atlanta’s Pride events spanned Oct. 8 and 9, and were scheduled to take place just before National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. This year marked the 41st edition of Atlanta’s Pride festivities.
The weekend of Oct. 8 and 9 also saw at least one Northern city celebrating Pride while a temperate sun still shone. Jersey City’s Pride took place on Oct. 9 after having been re-scheduled from its originally planned August date due to Hurricane Irene.
Pride has become a global phenomenon over the last several decades. Another city that celebrated late was Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The Associated Press reported on Oct. 10 that Rio’s Pride this year--the city’s 16th such celebration--drew a crowd of 700,000.
"Gay men, lesbians and cross-dressers danced and cheered to demands that Brazil enact more laws against homophobia in Latin America’s biggest nation," the article said.
Such visions of political and social equality are not unusual for Pride celebrants and organizers. Though Pride takes place over a weekend, usually in June, the event is emblematic of greater acceptance and integration of GLBTs the year round. Long after the cheers and music have faded and the last of the confetti has been swept away, the effects from a fun--but meaningful--social events will still be felt.
"Next month, a local non-profit organization, Visuality, will open a 2,200-square feet facility in Fort Myers to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people," reported the News-Press.