Rainbow flags, shirts, bandannas and even rainbow-colored dog leashes filled the streets of Manhattan on Saturday during the second annual Little Apple Pride Parade.
The parade is scheduled on the same day as KSU’s Open House to “be visible and show people that we are part of the community,” said parade chair Rachel Hoppins. Parade attendees marched from Manhattan Town Center to Triangle Park in Aggieville. During the nearly hour-long march, event-goers promoted equal rights for homosexuals via megaphones and signs.
Although there were some glares, most of the reactions were positive, according to marchers.
George Neill, a Wichita State student, came to Manhattan for the Pride Parade, after reading about it.
He said he wished the parade featured a drag show, since he referred to himself as a queen of Wichita.
Others said they were just happy that they were able to be themselves for an afternoon.
Marvin Garcia and Kendall Rice, who recently moved to Manhattan from Denver and Garden City respectively, said they get a lot of stares and comments when they are Aggieville.
Wearing a shirt that said: “Some dudes marry dudes. Get over it,” Garcia said people will always comment when he and his boyfriend, Kendall, hold hands.
Rice added that when someone saw the couple holding hands Friday, the person said, “Woah, that just happened.”
“You try to not let it affect you, but it’s hard,” Rice said.
Although he just recently came out and is still uncomfortable with holding hands in public, Rice said showing public affection is an important step in attaining equal rights for the LGBT community.
“I understand not wanting people that don’t need to know knowing or not wanting them to find out,” Rice said. “But if it’s not out there, then people who are open to supporting the cause won’t know either. There’s going to be an opposite to everything. You just have to stand up to it.”
Rice and Garcia said they are seeking basic human rights and the pride parade is an important step in establishing that need in Manhattan.
“Us being here, everybody being here and showing the people of Manhattan that we are normal people,” Garcia said. “We are human. We do have normal feelings. We are just expressing them.”
Being in an environment with similar people, gave the two a worry-free afternoon.
“It feels good to be in an area that I can be accepted and not have people commenting about what I am wearing or that we’re holding hands.”
Another marcher, Tara Baggett, a St. George resident, said it was really nice to not worry about being discriminated against.
“I don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing or look at someone the wrong way and have someone judge me,” Baggett said. “I would like someone to judge me after they get to know me. I can’t help who I love.”
Baggett said living in a small community provides it own share of problems.
“Smaller towns are more close-minded and aren’t OK with that,” said Baggett who is lesbian. “It can be a pain to deal with.”
At the end of the parade, attendees listened and danced to music, or sat around in circles and talked.
Gay support organizations also attended in an effort to help educate the public and support the parade.
Garcia said having equal rights for the LGBT community is way past due.
“The fact that you have to defend it, is sad,” he said. “It’s 2012. Wake up people.”