(Amiee Zhao/Emory Life Editor)
Marching from the MARTA Civic Center station to Piedmont Park, Emory University students and healthcare workers joined the Atlanta Pride Parade on Oct. 15. Emory community members have attended Atlanta Pride Committee’s annual event since 2009. This year, the parade’s theme was “Show Up & Show Out.”
Although the parade started at noon, the Emory crew started preparing at 9:30 a.m. on the business school quad. The Office of LGBT Life provided colorful makeup, pride-themed merchandise and a breakfast of warm donuts, sandwiches and coffee.
Attendees gathered on the Quad to grab a T-shirt specially designed for Emory parade participants or pick a flag that represented their LGBTQ identity. Some students also applied festive glitter and face paint.
Filling a total of four University shuttles, the group headed to the parade.
On one of the shuttles from the Atlanta campus to the parade, attendees sang along to songs by Queen and Billy Joel. After choruses of songs like “Don’t Stop Me Now” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the shuttles arrived at the entrance of this year’s Pride parade on the west end of Peachtree Street.
Welcomed by music, colorful balloons and costumes from representatives of different organizations and companies across Atlanta, Emory attendees warmed up in the 54-degree weather by dancing to the music and taking photos with each other.
Steven Igarashi-Ball, director of equity and engagement for the Atlanta Pride Committee, wrote in an email to the Wheel that this year’s parade received increased support from previous years.
“Our biggest surprise this year has been the outpouring of support and interest,” Igarashi-Ball wrote. “Unfortunately, we have to limit the number of parade entries due to time constraints, and each year, we have a waiting list of businesses and organizations vying to secure a spot. This year, the parade filled up very quickly, showing the tremendous community support and everyone’s eagerness to ‘Show Up & Show Out!’”
Stewart Key (26C), who attended the parade for the first time this year, was impressed by the commitment of people in the parade.
“I was surprised how prepared everyone was,” Key said. “Everyone came dressed up, or people with bubble guns and a lot of flags and signs. Everyone was just very dedicated.”
Alejandro Abarca, assistant teaching professor of dance at Oxford College, shared his thoughts on the Atlanta Pride Parade as the faculty adviser of OxPride, an organization dedicated to providing a safe space for LGBTQ+ students at Oxford.
“What I think is very specific and unique about Atlanta is number one, our Pride happens in October in the fall [and] is way more pleasant,” Abarca said. “It being kind of outside of the normal timeline also then puts a big spotlight on our city in general, on a national level.”
Atlanta Pride taking place in October gives students a chance to join the parade together during the school year, voicing their unique identities. Waving flags of different colors that represented their sexual orientations and gender identities, students freely expressed a part of who they are in the parade.
“I think what’s more helpful and impactful is on a regional level, just because if you think about Atlanta, and then Georgia, it’s kind of in the middle of a bunch of other smaller, more rural states,” Abarca said.
Thirteen Oxford students participated in the event, despite the rural location of their campus. OxPride and the Office of LGBTQ Life provided a free University shuttle at 8 a.m. to transport students from Oxford to the Atlanta campus: a one-hour drive. Abarca helped to organize the transportation.
“We are really providing space and presence for especially the younger, more rural [queer people] that don’t live in a major city to experience something that is really beautiful,” Abarca said.
(Yvette Wang/Contributing Writer)
Vivienne Drake (24Ox) said it was her first time participating in a Pride parade.
“I was surprised by how many different organizations of companies had a presence at Pride,” Drake said.
Crowds stood along the parade route and cheered with the participants. Many onlookers wore creative costumes and colorful makeup, and some interacted with those marching, offering hugs and stickers they made for the parade.
Also marching in the Pride parade for the first time, Key felt the connection between those from Emory and greater Atlanta when people along the parade route called out to those marching.
“A lot of it was a sense of community,” Key said, recalling highlight moments from her experience. “Walking through the city, a bunch of people would have little conversations or say ‘Happy Pride.’”
At the end of the parade route, people scattered into several groups at Piedmont Park. Parade-goers could still hear people wishing each other “Happy Pride” as they walked around the park.
“I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I am extremely happy I went,” Drake said. “I would definitely recommend that everybody goes at some point.”
Yvette Wang is from Suzhou, China. She is studying linguistics, psychology and sociology. Outside of Wheel, she is a president of photography club and an active member in Lingcircle. In her free time, she likes exploring different genres of music and photography.