‘Celebrate community, defend equality’ Pride festival brings people out

The mood was festive at Capital City Pride 2012. Thousands of people flocked to Sylvester Park in downtown Olympia for the two-day event. This year’s festival was one of the biggest turnouts according to Braden Edgel, a graduate of The Evergreen State College.

Capital City Pride started in 1991 with a small group of community activists who wanted to bring Pride from large cities like Seattle and San Francisco to the home and workplace of many LGBTQ-identified people.

According to co-chair at this year’s event and recently graduated SPSCC student Matthew Schrader, Capital City Pride started out as a political march that focused on receiving civil rights for gay and lesbian individuals in our community. It has since grown into a two-day celebration devoted to creating a positive environment for LGBTQ people.

The theme of Pride this year was, “Celebrate Community, Defend Equality,” a message that is the heart of the festivals meaning and goals, said Shrader.

The festivities kicked off on June 8 with a celebration at the Urban Onion with free wine, provided by Barefoot Wineries, the “official wine and bubbly sponsor of Pride weekend.” The celebration also included a marriage equality wedding cake.

The party-goers met the 2012 Capital City Pride committee which consisted of Co-Chair Shrader, Co-Chair and Business Manager Anna Schlecht, Graphic Identity Manager Justin Taylor, Administrative Assistant John Whisenant, CPA and Treasurer Erin Louis, Parade Manager Roger Cummings, Booth Manager Victoria Polanco, and Outreach Coordinator David Kindle.

There were over 50 booths and vendors at the festival this year. Some of the businesses in attendance were Met Meds Pharmacy, US Bank, MPowerment Olympia, Stonewall Youth, Puget Sound Energy, Puget Sound Blood Center, Pizza Klatch, Gender Alliance of South Sound, PFLAG Olympia, Rainy City Roller Dolls, Jamie Lee and Company, Thurston County Democrats, and the SPSCC’s own Queer-Straight Alliance.

Many of these businesses sponsored the Pride weekend with donations of $1,500 or more. According to Shrader, “the budget for Pride has doubled to $45,000 over the last four or five years.”

Besides the many booths and vendors, Pride had activities for every age group. The Urban Onion hosted BeatStroke, a 21-and-older dance party as well as a 21-and-younger dance party the next night. Pizza Klatch put on a dog show with prizes for the best butch dog and best femme dog.

The most attended and anticipated event at Pride was the parade on June 10. It made its way down Capital Boulevard while thousands of onlookers cheered and waved rainbow flags.

All of this celebration added up to something important to Shrader, a call to action for all LGBTQ identifiers. The goal of Pride, according to Shrader, is to celebrate diversity and fight for the right to have the same civil liberties as heterosexual-identified people.

He also said that a great thing about Pride is the fact that it is like a big family reunion where people come together to bring awareness and spread acceptance to each other and those who support their aims for equality.

“It’s very Olympia. We are a proud city,” said Shrader regarding Capital City Pride and the choice of having the event in the Capitol.

According to Shrader, this is fitting because the marriage equality bill was passed here, and he hopes that voters will uphold that law when they vote on Referendum 74. Referendum 74, if passed, will uphold the gay marriage rights in Washington state, one thing that most at Pride weekend hope for too.

Parade entries included Capital Cab, Capitol Plaza Hotel, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Puget Sound OLOC, SAGE of Olympia, Washington United for Marriage, Rainy City Roller Dolls, Community for Interfaith Celebration, PFLAG, Emmaus Catholic Community, Olympia’s TUSH Burlesque, Family Support Center of South Sound, The United Churches, Shelton High School, All Souls Unitarian Universalist Community, Temple Beth Hatfiloh, Marshall Farm Draft Horses, Samba of Olympia, and Mpowerment of Olympia, as well as many political candidates.

Dykes on Bikes were expelled from the parade, according to Shrader, after one of their riders almost collided with a child who was watching the parade, and because they had a car join them in their march which was unauthorized by the parade committee. Shrader said he had to ask them to remove themselves for “inappropriate” behavior.