It's Capital Pride Week

capital pride parade 2011 sebastienThe annual Capital Pride celebration is this week (it actually started this past weekend). As usual, there's a full slate of events and activities all this week.

For a lot of people the highlight of Capital Pride is the Pride Parade and Festival. It's this Sunday in Albany's Washington Park. The parade starts at noon at State Street and Sprague Street, heads down State, turns right on Lark, and then right on Madison back up to the entrance of Washington Park (map). And check it out: AOA Mary will be one of the parade float judges this year.

The festival starts right after the parade in the park. The headliner entertainment this year is American Idol finalist Kimberly Locke.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Last year, Leigh wrote about why Capital Pride is one of her favorite local events
+ Capital Pride parade photos 2011

photo: Sebastien Barre


I have a couple questions that I've always wanted to ask about the "Pride" parade/events:

Can someone please explain to me why the LGBT community feels they need a week to celebrate themsleves? I know that they bring in a ton of money to communities and all that, and I'm 100% for gay rights and gay marriage, but speaking as a longtime Center Square resident - come on. You really need a whole week devoted to yourselves?? It's a bit much.

Also - another thing I've never understood - what exactly are members of the LGBT community "proud" about? Doesn't pride come from something that has been accomplished based on some skill or aptitude (e.g. proud that I've earned a college degree). Saying you're "proud to be Gay" is like saying you're "proud to be Irish", or "proud to be Black". As George Carlin said, “Pride should be reserved for something you achieve or obtain on your own, not something that happens by accident of birth. Being Irish isn't a skill... it's a f**king genetic accident. You wouldn't say I'm proud to be 5'11"; I'm proud to have a pre-disposition for colon cancer.”

I'm honestly looking for a better understanding of this, so please discuss - thanks.

As someone that grew up in a town where there is absolutely nothing for gay kids to do, yes it's kind of important for us to ONCE a year for a little while celebrate that yep, we're different but we're still human and we deserve to have fun and feel safe.

Should I mention a few years ago when the UAlbany professor almost was killed on the way home from the Gay Pride festival?

Nah, let's leave that alone for now.

Think of the AlternaProm that invites kids who want to "come as they are" and be who they are and be happy to be who they are.

So yes, we really do need a pride festival and **** you if you don't like it. I'm sure there are other neighborhoods where you could move :)

Not understanding that a historically disenfranchised minority might want to spend some time celebrating themselves and taking the attitude that you're owed an explanation or discussion without doing any research yourself kind of breaks my brain.

Personally, I like the way Sen. Kehoe put it:

“It gives us visibility and highlights the fact that LGBT people are everywhere. As Harvey Milk said, ‘The number one enemy of gay people everywhere, anytime, is invisibility.’ Invisibility is the most silencing, and dangerous thing to any culture or group of people. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals are routinely marginalized and muted from popular culture. Invisibility means acquiescing to the notion that LGBT people don’t matter and that we don’t deserve the same rights and equal treatment under the law. Celebrating LGBT History Month opens that closet of invisibility.”

You can read more here:

Also this.

While we're at it how about those selfish Irish & Italian people having a parades.

Seriously though, June is the month of the Stonewall Riots. Google it.

@ Jane Doe: They're saying that they're proud to be Gay because less than 50 years ago they could have lost your job or been thrown in jail just for being suspected of being Gay.

@Jane Doe -

So you define the word "Pride" differently from how it is used for Gay Pride week. Are you simply arguing semantics? If so, you can't win. Different words are used in different linguistic communities and they mean different things. Words change and evolve in meaning. It is just the way words work.

But wouldn't you at least agree that a community can celebrate being happy to be who they are without judgement? Wouldn't you at least agree that it is good to celebrate the milestones achieved for the LGBT community, a community that has historically faced so much persecution and prejudice? Would you at least agree that it is good for a community to come together and have fun with other like-minded individuals? Because at the heart of it, that is what I (albeit a straight woman, so there may be additional nuances to Pride that I'm not aware of) believe Pride week is all about.

And then actually, it does go back to your original question about the usage of the word Pride - their community has come a long way in terms of how society has viewed and treated them. It has happened largely because of the LGBT community, not being afraid to come out, and showing people that they really are just like everyone else, not some scary fringe society. There have also been specific incidents (Stonewall) and LGBT people (Milk) who have furthered the movement. It is something to be proud of indeed.

first, @LucyInDaSkyWithDiamonds - I love the very classy "**** you if you don't like it...." attitude. Reminds me of one o' them good ol' boys down south. Idiot.

But I don't want to single out just you - the comments as a whole are unbelievably presumptuous. I asked a frigging question. @notincentersquare - you want to give me an English lesson? It's called the "Pride" parade for chrissakes. Why I thought I could get an intelligent answer to this question totally escapes me. But whatever, you want to get it going? Let's get it going.

First of all - having a Gay Pride parade on Lark Street is like having a "Yuppie Pride" parade in Clifton Park; i.e. it's quite redundant. Now, if you were going to have this event in a less-tolerant area to raise awareness of the LGBT community's persecution and to give people the courage to be themselves - yea, I can see that. However as anyone from the neighborhood can attest, Center Square its a very "proud" neighborhood pretty much all year. (If you are seriously comparing an annual event like this to the struggles Harvey Milk went through on any level, holy crap. Please educate yourself.) So there's that.

Number two. The problem with any kind of "Pride" festival is that it is exclusionary; at best its just a really fun time, essentially an LGBT LarkFest. And that's where the problem lies - using the same example, the actual LarkFest is not a non-LGBT event. In fact, there are laws in place that countless individuals fought (and died) for to protect groups like the LGBT community from such exclusionary practices. Labeling an event as 'whatever' pride, "Black Pride" for example, instantly excludes (implicitly at least, explicitly IMO) all other groups. I don't see the point in segregating groups into little cliques to party by themselves At worst, any group's self-worship can sometimes even devolve into a superiority complex, of sorts. "This lifestyle is so much better than theirs." "They go to their parade, we'll go to ours." Us vs. Them. No matter how noble the original intentions, times change. People evolve. And when we draw a line around our group to "have fun with other like-minded individuals", that line also keeps other groups out.

Think about it - what is actually being accomplished by gathering together a bunch of like-minded individuals to do things they all agree on? I would in fact argue that is counterproductive to the aims of a historically persecuted group such as the LGBT community. In other words, how can you change the minds of those who do not agree with you by surrounding yourselves with a homogeneous culture and celebrating yourselves? Again - a question. How bout an intelligent discussion this time?
Oh wait I forgot, "**** me" - right? Ha.

one last comment @notincentersquare. I agree that the struggles and subsequent advances that have been made in the LGBT movement are certainly something to be proud of, particularly for the individuals 'in the trenches' so to speak. I do think pride can go too far sometimes, to the point of self-worship and segregation, and I don't think you can effectively change people's minds that way. However if the original intent behind these Pride events was to honor these incidents and individuals, then that helps to answer my question. thanks

The last six months I've been planning just one of the numerous Pride events that happen near the Lark Street area. I can totally see your side of things especially since Lark Street is, year-round, one of the most diverse areas in Albany.

Which is exactly why I love hosting my event in that area. We are already welcome in the community so it makes sense to keep the money we bring in with our event in the Lark Street area. Not to mention helping to raise a lot of money for Capital Pride Center to help make it possible for little things - like having equal rights - to push forward and have more of a voice in NY and hopefully in every part of our country.

There are a lot of people that host a lot of different events... just putting them into one weekend draws away from more money that can be raised for Capital Pride Center.

For a comparison - the big day at Tulip Fest is Saturday, but still extends to events on either side of Saturday. Not quite as much, but there are events leading up to it and around it that can be supported by the main event. That's what Pride week is for me - the main day is truly Sunday - but we can have all of these other events to help raise money. Tulip Fest might not be the best example - just the one on the top of my head.

I'm Proud to help out with Pride. Looking behind the scenes, it's really amazing the amount of people in the entire community that pitch in and help out during this week - gay/straight/whatever.

"We are already welcome in the community so it makes sense to keep the money we bring in with our event in the Lark Street area." That is actually a very good point, Lola. I hadn't thought of it that way and it makes sense: if anyone should reap the financial rewards for these events it should be the establishments (and neighborhood in general) that make it a point year-round to do business in the Lark St. area and cater to its diverse clientele.
Again - an excellent point. thanks

"The problem with any kind of "Pride" festival is that it is exclusionary."

I am sure Jane Doe is also looking forward to the cancellation of the St. Patrick's Day parade, Columbus Day (for which there is at least a case to be made if you're Native American), Latham's Polish-Fest, the closure of the German-American Club...

(Is Jane Doe trolling?)

Dear JaneDoe,
You ask a really good question. An easy answer for why the LGBTQ community needs a whole week is because we are different. It’s like trying to get all of your friends to agree on one date to hang out and trying to get them to all do the one same thing. It’s really hard to do.

Each year I happen to pick one pride event and attend it. Other friends, go out, celebrate, and participate in things that appear to be like tulip fest or lark fest. We want to have family orientated events, educational events, social events, etc.

I was an out gay kid who lived in the suburbs of Rotterdam in 1994. Center Square & Lark Street is where we went to feel safe and to feel like we had a place to be. It was the first place we drove to once us three out gay kids had licenses. Why? Because the community center is on Hudson Ave. The youth group was there.

Being part of a visible community is what helps to make positive experiences for other LGBTQ individuals. Often, there is no one in your family who can console you after being picked on for being gay. In families where heritage & race are subject to ridicule and harassment, they can communicate how it feels, and how they got through it to the next generation of their family. Having the PRIDE events gives you that family. It gives you large scale events that you can see people like yourself participate in and it gives small scale events that you can make connections within.

If you asked any LGBTQ member of the Albany area they’d tell you that PRIDE events aren’t just for those who are gay. Allies and those who what to learn and ask questions are welcome. Are there those who don’t have the same opinion as I do? Of course. There are different levels to activism, education, and pride among every gay person.

I live in Center Square. I’ll run the PRIDE 5K in Washington Park on Saturday Morning. I’ll have no fear walking back to my house, holding a girls hand that morning. But it’s just for that morning, because it is still something I fear almost 18 years later and I live in the area I used to flock to in order to feel safe and free.

However, it is prideful to me to watch younger kids have a different experience than I did. To walk proud with their partner. To not have to worry. To celebrate their chosen family.

Don’t be afraid to ask your questions and don’t be afraid to ask them again and again. You’ll get different answers. Hopefully, you’ll watch the parade on Sunday. What you should watch for is the smiles & laughter from the high school youth groups and from elderly gay community members. It’s history and the change that is happening that causes the PRIDE, it’s just often even us LGBTQ don’t look long enough at the pride in our history’s eyes.

@Hollie - thank you so much for your response. I see why AOA featured your comment on their homepage, it was really very moving. You've made me understand how important these events are to this community, you've truly educated me on this - and for that I'm very grateful. I'd just like to make a brief point about our little discussion, specifically the way it played out on this blog.

I posted this question to my favorite local blog, one I read frequently and whose readers and writers I feel I can relate to, therefore I was a little surprised at the tone of some of the responses. As much as I'd like to I probably wouldn't walk up to a random person on the street and ask them the original question I posted here, because I'd assume the knee-jerk response would be something along the lines of LucyInDaSkyWithDiamonds' above ("f**k you if you don't like it...move to a new neighborhood"), so I thought posting a comment here would give people time to take a breath and chill before the knee-jerk. Questions like the one I asked above should not be met with defensiveness or cynicism, as I think most people ask these questions because they honestly want to learn. And if you have the knowledge to enlighten a genuinely curious individual, but refuse to share it because you are offended by the question, what does that solve? And where can we go from there? I realize that asking questions about 'sensitive' matters like sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, etc. can be very uncomfortable in-person, but it is becoming a bit of a taboo even for anonymous online discussion as well and that is a shame. We need a place to foster frank conversations about these matters if we're ever going to achieve a true understanding of each other, because it is upon the foundation of mutual understanding that mutual respect can eventually be built.

I am certain there are others out there who would like the opportunity to ask honest, sincere questions about another race or religion or culture or political party or whatever. If they could all get an answer from someone like you, Hollie, we'd all be a hell of a lot better off. Thanks again.

I thought Jane's questions and Hollie's answers were both thought provoking and meaningful and am happy to have read them all. I suppose just because I accept gays and lesbians as a normal part of life it doesn't mean everyone else does - hence one of the reasons for the Pride events.



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