Annual Capital Pride Parade held in Albany

June 10, 2018 06:08 PM

ALBANY - The parades weren't always so colorful. They weren't always so well attended. And they certainly didn't always serve the same purpose.

“What started as a march for rights has really turned into a parade that celebrates the diversity of the city and the Capital Region,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan.


To celebrate that diversity, people from all walks of life were marching, and dancing, and riding through Albany streets waving flags, spinning umbrellas, carrying banners.

 “We are just out to celebrate gay pride and pride of every kind,” said Rachel O'Hearn.

Cheryl Blodgett attended the parade with her wife. She hopes parades like Sunday’s make a difference in changing attitudes in America.

Dan Levy's Facebook Live video from the parade

“We were just saying earlier today if people came here and saw how much fun people were having, their whole perspective would be changed,” Blodgett said.

“I am not gay. I am married to a man. But I have family members and friends that are gay and I support the gay community and I support everybody that's different. I'm hoping my children will learn that as well,” added Blanca Parker.

It seems like Parker's 8-year old daughter has already learned an important lesson.

“Even if you're a man and married to another man, it doesn't matter. No one can judge you for that,” said Lucia Parker.

Long before there were similar parades in Albany and around the world, there was a defining moment in the Gay Rights Movement. It happened 49 years ago in Greenwich Village in New York City at a place called the Stonewall Inn.

On June 28, 1969, in a bar patronized by gays, lesbians, drag queens, and other marginalized members of society, police stormed in. It led to massive demonstrations and spontaneous riots. For the gay community, that was the final straw, and the movement it triggered has now evolved into colorful parades like the one that has become an Albany tradition.

“It has come a very long way from where they used to be able to walk into a bar and arrest people and drag them out in handcuffs,” Blodgett said. “It was a terrible, terrible time.”

And even though no one disputes progress has been made, neither does anyone dispute there are many more attitudes that can be changed.

“I think they've changed tremendously but you still hear about incidences of bigotry, of bullying,” Sheehan said.

“We should allow people to do whatever they want. Everybody else wants the same freedom, so why not?” O'Hearn wondered.

Sometimes there's much more at stake than pride when you attend a parade.


Dan Levy

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