Year after year, the Mid-South Pride celebration never disappoints. Sure, it's not NYC Pride with thousands of long-lashed drag queens, bare-cheecked leader daddies, and rainbow mohawk-sporting grannies (check out NYC Pride's webpage for picture proof the amazing 'hawk). But Memphis' annual Pride parade and festival is something the city should be, well, proud of.
Why? Because small as though our LGBT community may be, there's a cohesiveness that comes out on Gay Pride Day. All the catty quarrels and pointless disagreements are put aside for a day to show the city of Memphis "we here, we're queer, get used to it." Memphis Police block off streets to traffic and local LGBT groups show off their flashy floats and wave rainbow flag after rainbow flag in the annual Saturday parade.
After the parade, hundreds of people file into the almost-too-small Peabody Park for cold beer, karaoke, funnel cakes, and freebies (by the way, Whole Foods had the best giveaways this year — Rawolution energy bars and reusable totes!). In a much-needed nod to racial unity, Mid-South Pride joined the African-American gay pride group, Memphis Black Pride, for a picnic in Overton Park on Sunday.
I've never seen an anti-gay protester at a Mid-South Pride celebration. That's not to say that Memphis doesn't have it's share of homophobes, but for some reason, they tend leave the community alone on Pride Day. And so the Mid-South Pride celebration is rarely wrought with controversy or tension.
I'd bet larger Pride celebrations across the country suffer from more protests and inner-LGBT community strife than our little Mid-South Pride celebration does. The lack of negativity on Pride Day in Memphis makes the local LGBT community appear strong and unified, both necessary qualities for a community attempting to gain civil rights in these changing times.
When the gay community appears strong and determined, the straight community is more likely to listen and sign on with their support. Memphis seems to have that part down pat. Now if we could only drag Wyatt Bunker down to next year's parade, maybe he'd see the light.