By Susan Payne
The 36th annual Greater Palm Springs Pride Parade this month drew a large crowd and highlighted the nation’s regional divisions against LGBTQ+ rights.
Donning rainbows and festive looks, people of all ages represented a myriad of groups, including high school students and adult performers.
“Say Gay,” the festival’s theme, is a play on a controversial Florida bill that was signed into law in March which restricts classroom discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by its opponents, according to the Desert Sun.
“Parades in general in places like Palm Springs — we’re pretty out there,” said Harry Helbing told the Desert Sun. “So ‘saying gay’ is like, ‘Yeah, what?’ Maybe if this was in a (red) state it would be a different story.”
Helbing moved to Palm Springs during the pandemic and said the city’s festival “had a homemade quality that’s kind of fun.”
Austin, Texas, resident Kate Dunn traveled to Palm Springs to visit family and attend the festival.
“We thought, ‘Why not do it in the place that knows how to do it?’” Dunn said. “(It has a) small-town feel but we’re still celebrating Pride with everyone around us.”
The theme of the festival brought on issues in Texas that Dunn believes needs to be talked about.
“Kids are going to go through these experiences regardless and if we can help them along the way — I know that it helps me to have these conversations with people, particularly people younger than me,” she said. “I think it would just be a lot easier if we would pull the cloak off of things and just talk about things openly instead of having this puritanical approach to education and discussion about sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Jim McMichael, celebrating with friends, didn’t have a strong view of the event’s political message, but being able to be proud and receive support from allied partners in a year that’s been so divise was important, he told the Desert Sun.
West Hollywood resident Jeff Max said, “You do have to ‘say gay.’ They should be in books, they should be taught.”