The North Carolina Pride Parade and Festival took place this Saturday in the hopes of promoting increased unity and visibility for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.
The festival, North Carolina’s annual LGBT event, celebrated its 29th year and 13th consecutive year at the University. The weekend slate of events, held in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, culminated Saturday on Duke’s East Campus with the 8:30 a.m. Pride Run & Walk 5k and 1 p.m. parade. The race, which was officially added for the first time this year, was conducted around the East Campus Trail. The parade wound a loop around the campus, going so far as 9th street. Madhatter Bakeshop and Cafe, located on the corner of Main and Broad Street, served as the center of the day’s events.
The day was viewed through a rainbow lens of flags, feathered boas, suspenders, necklaces and even fishnet fingerless gloves. In addition to the vibrant colors, those passing by were sure to notice the incoherent blowing of horns, wailing of whistles and screeching cheers that echoed through the lawns of East Campus.
Caroline Pode, a resident of Carrboro N.C., noted the ability of these events to increase awareness about the LGBT community.
“[Today’s pride festival] provides people with a chance to come together and recognize that this is a group of people in society, and that we don’t have to hide—we aren’t that different,” Pode said. “We are a part of Durham and North Carolina just like everyone else.”
But the Durham community was not the only one to show their support—Duke students donned their rainbow clothing and danced on floats, as well.
A special float was allotted by the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity for the Duke LGBT community and its allies, said sophomore Daniel Kort, president of Blue Devils United—an undergraduate student group that seeks to provide social opportunities for LGBT students. Although many students crowded the float with smiles on their faces, Kort hopes to see more students at the parade next year.
“I was pleased with the turnout of the LGBT community on the float but, in the future, I would like to see more Duke students in general watching the parade,” Kort said.
The run drew serious runners, walkers and supporters of the LGBT community from throughout the state. Race director Heather Brockel said the mission of the race is to combine the accepting and athletic nature of Durham.
“What we do is bring LGBT families and supporters together. [The race] embodies the community spirit of Durham,” Brockel said. “We are an accepting and loving community and... we are a running community.”
Bull City Running, a running store in Durham, was the main sponsor of the event. Kim Page, Bull City Running’s co-owner, noted that the run’s mission coincides well with that of her store’s.
“One of the things that is most rewarding to us is [the race’s] ability to help grow the running community and to bring new people into the sport of running,” Page said.
Page added that, though Saturday’s turnout was better than she expected, she hopes the event will continue to grow in size.
Since the sponsorship of the 5k as an official timed race, the number of participants has grown from 30 to 200 hundred people, Brockel noted.
Participants of both the race and the parade echoed the sentiments of the event’s purpose to support the LGBT community.
“We have co-workers, family and friends who are gay,” Durham local Lisa Ray said. “We just wanted them to know that we support them publicly.”
Some came from farther than Durham to watch the day’s events. Raleigh resident Greg Moore was excited to participate in both the race and spend the day with his friends.
“It’s because I like to run. I have wonderful friends,” Moore said. “I’m proud to be a gay man in North Carolina, especially to be over 40, fit and fun.”