The Stonewall Democratic Club and Queer Fresno participated in the 75th Annual Fresno Holiday Parade today carrying the banner Don We Now Our Gay Apparel.
The colorfully dressed members of these two groups were cheered as they marched in downtown Fresno where thousands of Central Valley residents had gathered.
The Fresno LBGTI community has been under attack lately. Most recently the People’s Church held a "Love Won Out" conference where it was argued that homosexuality could be "cured." Just a couple of months before that, the mayor of Fresno held what he called a "celebration of traditional marriage" but others called a hate rally. Large and vocal protests were held at both events.
The Holiday Parade today was led by a U.S. Marine hummer and marching troops. Following the military parade was a mixture of schools, corporate floats, a low rider club or two, and churches. Near the beginning of the two hour parade was a Army National Guard transportation truck hauling a large inflated elephant with a Yes on Z banner on her side. Measure Z passed in the November election, its proponents claiming it was needed to save the zoo. The grassroots group, Save Roeding Park, argued that measure Z would result in the privatization of the zoo and the loss of a substantial part of Roeding Park. The driver of the Army National Guard truck said the Yes on Z committee had asked them to haul the elephant in the parade. He said they were doing it as a community service.
Not far behind the partnership between the Army and the Yes on Z group was the Pappas corporation. Pappas is the local Fox TV affiliate who tried to give free advertising to Republicans in the November election. The FCC ruled against them and they were forced to provide free advertising to the Democratic Party. Also at the parade were floats for Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Fresno Police Department, and Manchester Center (a local shopping center). Most of these groups threw candy to the children who lined the parade route.
The LBGTI community in Fresno has not backed down in the face of bigotry and prejudice. Their presence at the Holiday Parade is further testimony to their efforts to demand respect and show that they are a part of the essential fabric of this community. It is not clear whether a majority of the crowd lining the streets in downtown Fresno understood the exquisite irony of the slogan on their banner – Don We Now Are Gay Apparel. What is clear is that we have some brave and creative members in Fresno’s LBGTI community who refuse to be intimidated. Their participation in the parade was inspirational.
By Mike Rhodes
December 4, 2004