The annual Las Vegas Pride Parade marched down 4th Street Friday night with all of the expected spectacle and pageantry to kick off a weekend of celebrations. The festival, held on Saturday afternoon, featured booths from sponsors and artisans which ranged from rapid HIV testing to sexy underwear. It was the usual blend of mundane and outlandish which can only coexist when the LGBT community comes together to celebrate once a year. As this year’s Pride weekend draws to a close, despite ups and downs in the planning and process, the end result was weekend of unapologetic frivolity and freedom.
Despite a history in recent years of allegations of financial misconduct with the Southern Nevada Association of Pride, Inc. (SNAPI) board, the weekend did come together finally. Several groups did back out over unresolved issues relating to those allegations, and it seems likely that the disputes are far from over. While disappointing to many community leaders that this type of conflict should mar an event as important as Pride, the problems are not unique to Las Vegas. While the issues are not exactly the same everywhere, many Pride celebrations in large cities such as Boston and New York have come up against divisive arguments and allegations as part of their growing pains.
Unique to Pride, however, is the makeup of the people involved. Almost across the board when these things have arisen, there has been a lot of noise and publicity on the problem, but there have also been relatively quick solutions. To an extent, they are part of the normal growing pains for any large organization which forces groups to adopt transparency and formal procedures for handling every aspect of the planning. An event like Pride, however, represents something so important to the community that nobody wants to allow it to suffer over petty politics. In a community which has had to adopt unity of purpose and solidarity as foundational parts of their identity just to survive, a return to the important priorities always comes more quickly than eslewhere. It is loud and messy, but the LGBT community always has been and will be loud and messy. Owning it, and even flaunting it, is just a part of Pride.
Flawed, perhaps not as pretty as in years past, but still in-your-face and fabulous, the 25th Las Vegas Pride was the very personification of the LBGT experience. It is what the community does on a daily basis. The scars and blemishes are out in the open, for everyone to see. This community does not hide from a past of struggles, nor allow outside influence to assign shame to what is truly beautiful. The strength and solidarity that comes of shared experiences, of a common fight, is stronger than any internal squabbles. Love, uninhibited, unfettered, and unassailable is the hallmark of the LGBT community. It is what brings hope that tomorrow will be better than today, and that there is nothing that cannot be overcome. The Las Vegas Pride this year may have had a bumpy ride, but it was also a beautiful one, because this family has come too far to run from a fight when the going gets rough.
By Jim Malone