Text by John Aronno
Photos by Zach D Roberts
[Please keep an eye out for more Alaska Pride Fest Coverage… like our upcoming photo-essay “Dogs of Pride.” It
will be is adorable]
Saturday, June 15, brought Alaska’s Pride Fest back onto Delaney Park in Anchorage, capping off a week of celebration. The festival began with a march starting on 4th Avenue, working its way to the park strip. The walk symbolized taking “a new ‘step’ in [Pride Fest’s] mission to unify our state of pride.”
With multiple Supreme Court rulings expected later this month with immeasurable impacts to American LGBT, the excitement in the air was electric.
On the park strip, dozens of sponsors (Alaska Commons included) populated vendor booths. The well-over-a-thousand gathered inside the circle of vendors listened to slam poetry, musical performances, dances, and DJing. Every walk of life was represented and grinning from ear to ear. The sun was out and the weather perfect – conditions that hadn’t graced the festival for several years.
And one nuanced difference kept itching at me. Something that seemed very new: Clipboards. Endless clipboards. And business cards! Trout Unlimited circulated public comment postcards on the proposed Pebble Mine. A handful of attendees ran frantically around with petition booklets for the referendum on oil tax cuts implemented by Parnell last session. The Young Democrats and Andrew Halcro, alike, greeted passers by. Dozens of other special interest groups flooded the rainbow-adorned masses attempting to influence their opinions and court their support on this matter or that.
That may seem like ubiquitous crowd-spam not worthy of mention. But it stuck with me and made me smile rather largely. I saw people looking at the LGBT community and its allies as a minority with growing importance; a group that one needs to gain the favor of to successfully win an argument (or pass a law).
The days of House Majority members laughing off the concerns of the LGBTA community in Alaska are waning. The emboldened steps forward in the “mission to unify our state of pride” and the growing support of allies willing to stand alongside is a powerful force that lawmakers and society’s detractors are becoming less able to look away from, or outright object to.
Judging by the crowd at Pride Fest 2013, I think we’re all starting to see, feel, and believe that.
[Above, from left to right: Katie Hurley, former assistant to Democratic Territorial Governor Ernest Gruening and the chief clerk at the Alaska State Constitutional Convention; Arliss Sturgulewski, former Republican state legislator; David Alexander, Katie Hurley’s son.]
[Above: Anchorage Assembly Woman Elvi Gray-Jackson]
[Above, Doug Frank, legendary equal rights advocate and 2011 Alaska Pride Grand Marshal]