Pride Week Parade brings color, solidarity to downtown
FARGO - The 14th annual Fargo-Moorhead Pride Parade brought a little color to downtown Fargo on an initially gray, overcast Sunday afternoon.
The 30-minute parade and subsequent rally on the lawn between the Fargo Civic Center and the Fargo Public Library brought Fargo-Moorhead Pride Week to a celebratory close.
Grand marshal Dee DuShane of Tri-State Transgender led the way for the more than 20 groups walking the route from Fourth Street North toward the Civic Center, decked out in rainbow regalia and holding signs saying things like “Best Buy has pride” and “Together 28 years.”
There was Spandex and glitter, but most of all, there was a strong sense of solidarity.
Parade participants included the Fargo-Moorhead Gay Men’s Chorus, who kicked off the rally afterward, huddled in a circle singing their rendition of the national anthem; 4 Luv of Dog, whose volunteers dressed their pups in rainbow bandannas and tutus; representatives from the NDSU Family Therapy Center, Christians Coming Out, several area churches and more.
Members of the Pride Collective-affiliated We Are Family group, wearing sea-creature-like rainbow balloon costumes and carrying a giant rainbow flag, seemed to get the most smiles, cheers and cellphone snaps.
On the corner of Broadway and Second Avenue North, in front of Metro Drug, Vanessa Morken and Bettina Souder had a table set up asking passers-by to fill out a questionnaire about what beauty means to them.
Why is the pride parade a good fit for their project?
“Look at these people, they’re beautiful!” Morken responded. “I think the pride parade is all about being yourself and not being afraid to be who you are. That’s really what our project is about.”
By the time the crowd made its way to the civic for the rally, the sun had come out in full force and was beating down, but that didn’t stop speakers from sharing their stories, thanks and support.
Rep. Josh Boschee, D-Fargo, the first openly gay candidate elected to the North Dakota Legislature, started, talking about the progress the community has made with LGBTQ rights but the work that’s yet to be done.
State Director Ryan Nagle read a letter from U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, in her absence.
In her letter, Heitkamp spoke about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ensure that LGBTQ Americans would be protected from discrimination solely based on their sexual orientation or how they identify themselves.
“I strive to represent ALL of North Dakota in everything I do,” she wrote. “Love is love, and no one should be subjected to discrimination, harassment or prevented from living a happy life with their loved one.”
Joe Moran, the current chairman of the Pride Collective and Community Center’s board of directors, told the diverse audience about conquering his fears growing up and invited them to check out the center’s new location at 1105 1st Ave. S. in Fargo, which hosted a grand opening Sunday morning.
Josh Newville, a civil rights lawyer with Madia Law in Minneapolis, invited the couples in attendance who are a part of the class-action lawsuit filed in June to stand in front of the podium while he spoke. The suit challenges North Dakota’s ban on same-sex marriage; North Dakota was the last state without a challenge to such a ban.
He pointed out that if Cass County Sheriff’s Capt. Mickey Harmon, who received a round of applause at the mention of her name, were killed in the line of duty, her wife would not receive benefits.
“The world is changing, and everybody who’s here is a part of it,” Newville said.