Na­tional LGBT Pride Month

A look at the up­com­ing fes­ti­vals

GA Voice - - Front Page -

Pride month in the U.S. took on a somber tone when a gunman opened fire at Pulse, an Or­lando gay night­club on Latin night, killing 49 and in­jur­ing more than 50 LGBT peo­ple of color and one iden­ti­fied straight ally.

The shock­ing mas­sacre on June 12 also fu­eled fears of an­other at­tack against LGBT peo­ple, in­clud­ing the nu­mer­ous Pride fes­ti­vals tak­ing place this month and in the com­ing months.

Po­lice pres­ence at Chicago Pride’s fes­ti­val, in­clud­ing the June 26 pa­rade that at­tracts a mil­lion peo­ple, was ramped up sig­nif­i­cantly with hun­dreds more of­fi­cers pa­trolling the streets as well as K9 units and bike of­fi­cers, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports.

James Fal­lar­ino, spokesper­son for New York City Pride, which cul­mi­nates with a June 26 pa­rade that at­tracts some two mil­lion peo­ple, said ex­tra se­cu­rity is a top pri­or­ity.

“Peo­ple will see a greater po­lice pres­ence … it’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to see that pres­ence,” he said. Pri­vate se­cu­rity will also be out in force and there will be such se­cu­rity mea­sures as bag checks and “wand­ing” – scan­ning peo­ple with a hand-held metal de­tec­tor – at var­i­ous Pride events.

While se­cu­rity is a key con­cern for New York City Pride, Fal­lar­ino said the fes­ti­val also would honor and memo­ri­al­ize the vic­tims.

New York Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Bill Brat­ton has pre­dicted this year’s pa­rade will be the largest ever in re­sponse to the hor­ror of the Or­lando killings.

“We agree that it is more im­por­tant than ever to be out and proud and show your pride,” Fal­lar­ino said.

Safety in Or­lando, other cities

In Or­lando, the city is still reel­ing with shock and pain. Nu­mer­ous vig­ils fol­lowed by even more fu­ner­als were at­tended by thou­sands of the city’s vi­brant LGBT com­mu­nity.

“Queer peo­ple and es­pe­cially queer peo­ple of color have a long his­tory of feel­ing threat­ened and un­safe around po­lice of­fi­cers be­cause of past abuse. At­lanta Pride is work­ing with var­i­ous groups to de­vise strate­gies that are rea­son­able and safe.” —Jamie Fer­gu­son, Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor, At­lanta Pride By DYANA BAGBY

Or­lando Pride is held the same week­end as At­lanta Pride, with its pa­rade slated for Oct. 8. Prepa­ra­tions are al­ready un­der­way to en­sure the event is as safe as pos­si­ble.

“Come Out With Pride, held in down­town Or­lando’s Lake Eola Park, last year at­tracted over an es­ti­mated 140,000 peo­ple. The safety of those in­di­vid­u­als is and will con­tinue to be a top pri­or­ity for us,” said Come Out With Pride spokesper­son Jeff Prys­ta­jko. “We work closely with the Or­lando Po­lice Depart­ment to im­ple­ment var­i­ous mea­sures, in­clud­ing uti­liz­ing ad­di­tional pri­vate se­cu­rity, to en­sure our guests are safe. We have al­ready had con­ver­sa­tions and will con­tinue to work closely with au­thor­i­ties in plan­ning this year’s fes­ti­val,” Prys­ta­jko said.

At­lanta Pride ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Jamie Fer­gu­son said the non­profit pays the At­lanta Po­lice Depart­ment more than $40,000 a year to pro­vide se­cu­rity at the fes­ti­val in Pied­mont Park – one of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s largest bud­get items and about equal to the amount spent on en­ter­tain­ment. Pri­vate se­cu­rity per­son­nel are also uti­lized.

What hap­pened in Or­lando is a huge tragedy, but un­for­tu­nately at­tacks in queer spa­ces are not new and se­cu­rity of Pride par­tic­i­pants is al­ways a con­cern, she said.

“We are not just start­ing to think about it,” she said.

‘Long his­tory of feel­ing threat­ened’

But ramp­ing up a strong po­lice pres­ence is not the an­swer, she said. This year’s At­lanta Pride grand mar­shals in­clude two trans­gen- der women of color as well as So­lu­tions Not Pun­ish­ment Coali­tion (SNaPCo), an or­ga­ni­za­tion that chal­lenges the At­lanta Po­lice Depart­ment and other lo­cal po­lice de­part­ments on its treat­ment of trans and gen­der non­con­form­ing peo­ple of color.

Queer peo­ple and es­pe­cially queer peo­ple of color have a long his­tory of feel­ing threat­ened and un­safe around po­lice of­fi­cers be­cause of past abuse, Fer­gu­son said. At­lanta Pride is work­ing with var­i­ous groups to de­vise strate­gies that are rea­son­able and safe.

“More po­lice is not an ac­cept­able so­lu­tion,” she said. “We have to take care of ev­ery­one we can in all the ways we can.”

No one can con­trol when some­one might want to hurt a group of LGBT peo­ple, but Fer­gu­son said the fes­ti­val will pro­vide the best se­cu­rity avail­able.

“If we let them stop us, then they are al­ready win­ning a lit­tle bit,” she said.

Sue Doster, co-pres­i­dent of In­terPride, an in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion work­ing to con­nect Prides from around the globe, said nu­mer­ous Pride or­ga­niz­ers have reached out to the or­ga­ni­za­tion seek­ing guid­ance and re­sources. Doster noted Bos­ton Pride al­ready has an elab­o­rate se­cu­rity plan that was put into place fol­low­ing the deadly 2013 Bos­ton Marathon bomb­ing.

“There are Prides in the world where sadly this is more of a day-to-day re­al­ity,” she said. In Turkey, for ex­am­ple, on June 19, the Istanbul po­lice fired tear gas and rub­ber bul­lets at peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing in a Trans Pride rally. In April, a court con­victed an ul­tra-Ortho­dox Is­raeli Jew of mur­der for stab­bing and killing a teenage girl at a gay Pride pa­rade in 2015.

“But even in those hos­tile cli­mates, Pride finds a way. In Amer­ica, even in the wake of this tragedy, I guar­an­tee you across the coun­try Pride will find a way. Pride can­not be ex­tin­guished,” Doster said.

Above: At­lanta Pride Be­low: Chicago Pride (Cour­tesy pho­tos)

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