[EDITOR'S NOTE:] Bilerico reader Allen Lopp attended Louisville's pride festival and submitted this post with pictures of the festivities. We'll continue to bring you Pride coverage from around the nation from various contributors and guest bloggers. Stay tuned for more!
Well, fellow Bilerico readers, here is my best shot at a last-minute coverage of this year's Kentuckiana Pride Parade and Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. I won't be waiting near the phone for the Pulitzer committee to call, because to cover Kentuckiana Pride properly one must follow the rules. I didn't.
The KPF group has an unusual press arrangement that has been harshly criticized by Pride groups in other cities. In Louisville, the parade and opening of the festival is Friday night, and is open to the press and free. On Saturday from noon to midnight, the Festival costs a $5 admission fee, is closed to the media (with a few special exceptions individually approved by the KPF committee) and considered to be a "private party".
This "privacy" situation is supposedly so that folks can come to the festival without fear of being photographed, posted on the Internet or published in print, and losing their jobs because of it. Groups in other cities have called this an accommodation to clostry, and feel that if you aren't willing to be out at work, then what are you doing at a gay pride festival?
I disagree. Cities grow thru phases of openness. I remember when Indianapolis had a "Hoosier Pride Festival" that could not be called a "Gay" and "Lesbian" festival without scaring people away. Then in a decade or two, Indianapolis grow through that phase. The same will happen in Louisville, so get out of their face, I say.
So, back to my coverage ... I should have brought my camera on Friday and left it home on Saturday. I did it bass-ackwards this year, but now I'll know for next year.
On Friday, the parade started at TryAngles bar at Brook and Market, goes west on Market to Floyd, north on Floyd to Main, and west on Main to the Belvedere. The groups that marched included Louisville MCC, Progressive Pathways, Open Door Ministries and several other ministry groups, Kentucky Fairness (which got recognized for having the best float), the Kentuckiana Kodiaks bear group, several elegant drag queens and their entourages, the Nightwings leathermen's group, the Voices of Kentuckiana chorus, and a contingent where marchers could show off their pets. Encouraging is the facts that the crowds of observers for the parade seem to get larger and more supportive every year. As small as this parade is, I think it is doing vital work for the city of Louisville.
At the festival on the Belvedere on Friday night, the crowd was ample but not crowded. The Belvedere is a huge venue and we do not fill it, and it is good that the Festival has room to grow. I was disappointed at the selection of food vendors there on Friday, and hoped that more would show up on Saturday, but they didn't. Soft drinks, root beer floats, Budweiser, corn dogs, funnel cakes, hamburgers and a few other types of sandwiches ... health food it ain't. Last year had several excellent pizza and Asian food vendors, but they did not return is 2007.
I failed to find anyone who was willing to give me attendance figures. If I have to offer a guess, I would say maybe 10,000, which is my total wild-assed guess ... and which is not bad for a southern city the size of Louisville. I was delighted that the festival was well attended by a racially mixed crowd intermingling with total harmony. (A black friend of mine, however, told me that he did not know of any black GLBT organizations in Louisville. This, in my opinion, is unfortunate.)
Cameras are allowed on Saturday, but only for personal use, which does not include posting on Bilerico.com. I was careful to respect the spirit of the policy by not submitting pictures with identifiable people in them. God knows I don't want to be the cause for half of Kentucky losing their jobs... after all, everyone knows there are no gay bosses or gay business-owners in Kentucky. * wink *