By Erin Kayata
Traffic was at almost a standstill as pedestrians in neon colors and vendors selling colorful balloons mulled through the streets. Businesses toted rainbow flags in their windows and doorways. The State House was a beacon, lighting a bright rainbow along the skyline. It was clear: Providence Pride’s Nighttime Illuminated Parade had arrived.
Cars decorated with Christmas lights rolled down the street, while the local YMCA danced their way through with a sign declaring that “Everyone is welcome”. A float featuring a giant wedding cake helped represent this year’s Pride theme of “Love Forward”, that everyone should be free to love whomever they choose.
“We love the fact that Providence opens itself to the gay community,” say Beth Parys of Holland, Massachusetts, who was there to see her daughter march with the local Y. Many groups showed their support by marching in the parade, including the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps and the Providence Roller Derby, all of whom wore rainbow colored gear.
Many of the groups in the parade tossed freebies to the crowd. Viewers of the parade sported Mardi Gras beads that marchers threw to them. Pink whistles, candy, as well as condoms encouraging safe sex made their way through the crowd.
As the parade wound down, the crowd began to disperse and quiet down. However, even as the sights of Pride began to fade away, people only needed to look to the rainbow flags, and the lights of the State House to be reminded that even after Pride is over,support of the gay community remains strong in Rhode Island.