This past week, Starkville celebrated Pride with a week full of events on campus, by holding viewings of different LGBTQ films, and in town, by having The Queer Arts Market held at Fire Station Park on Saturday. The pinnacle of Pride week, though, was Saturday's Pride Parade.
According to Cash Matlock of WCBI, there were hundreds of participants in the parade.
As I walked in the parade, I was surrounded by people of all races, sexualities, shapes and sizes. I heard a stranger next to me look around at the crowd and tell her friend, "This is so invigorating!"
That is when it hit me—Pride is so much more than a week of events and a parade.
Pride is important because it shows a group of people, who often feel alone, they actually have an entire community supporting them. It is one week of the year in which members of the LGBTQ community can openly celebrate themselves while knowing there are others backing them.
Often, members of the LGBTQ community face shame and judgment. It is easy for them to forget there is a community of support behind them. New members sometimes fear what lies ahead after they "come out." Pride is here to show them they can celebrate who they are and who they love. It gives a sense of security to so many people who desperately need just that.
Pride is also for those who have fought so long for the rights they have just recently attained. It was not until 2014 that the ban on same-sex marriage in Mississippi was deemed unconstitutional. Pride is a time in which those who have been members of the LGBTQ for a while can celebrate and relish in their successes.
Pride brings both the old and the new together. The week of events created an opportunity for many LGBTQ members to meet new friends who have at least one thing in common—hearts full of love.
Yes, there are protesters of Pride, and there always will be. These protestors also give LGBTQ members a chance to show their strength, love and respect.
By witnessing a parade participant banging on a rainbow trashcan to drown out the voices of the protestors, and other participants throwing peace signs in the direction of the protestors, I saw a beautiful strength in the LGBTQ community. The community stood together and showed love in front of people who were showing none.
Pride is, after all, a celebration of love.
Last year’s Pride parade opened the door for the continuation of these events with more than 2,500 people celebrating the 2018 Pride Parade, according to Curtis M. Wong of The Huffington Post.
Seeing Pride come to Starkville for the second year in a row, especially when it nearly did not happen last year, is heartwarming. It is important Starkville continues to show love and acceptance by hosting a Pride Week every year, and it cannot happen without the support of students and community members.