*photos courtesy of Destinee Hoskins and Seneca Moore
Pittsburgh Pride was a plentiful process! Being that I had been in Wheeling, West Virginia for a while trying to bring back the Gay/Straight Alliance at the local public school, partaking in a pride event at a place that shuts down the streets to celebrate seemed so fabulous to look forward to! Together the local students and caring community members of Wheeling and I started a Facebook group, the Liberty Lounge, for all the lgbtq people who felt like they didn’t have a place to meet like-minded peers, a support group for the girls and boys who are growing and going through the questions and concerns that being gay gives us all, a support system, a Facebook family for all of us and our allies. I met many marvelous men and women who were eager and elated to be in an environment that was encouraging and inclusive, and so some students and I began our Pittsburgh Pride preparations.
A few weeks out we went and bought shirts to show our support. We shortened sleeves, we ironed on letters, we shined up our shoes with rainbows and we painted our pride. The night before the pride parade and street fair we finished our final fitting and set out for some snacks. With our purses protruding with chips and cheese-its, we were on our way to watch the parade and performers.
The parade was pouring with people who were both barely clothed and also awesome! I am always particularly proud to see big-name brands being benevolent, and also churches who really represent their God’s love. Old Navy sold Pride shirts in their stores. Highmark Health Insurance had the most people in the parade, strongly showing their support. I found a firm hope for the future, though, as the streets were streaming with gay-friendly families – proud parents of lgbtq children, and straight families who were happily exposing and educating their kids about equality.
There were buttons, banners and boxers, shirts, stickers and knee-high socks, tutus, tents and talent, performers, pit bulls and plenty of people! What we were all excited to see, though, was a group that I have been a fan of for quite a few months, as solo entertainers and now as a traveling troupe. I saw them raise money for charity, compete for the title of Mr. Cattivo/Sotto, which JJ Cox won, and take the drag king competition in Pittsburgh to new performance pinnacles. Hot Metal Hardware – Chance Encounters, JJ Cox, Maycum Dizzy, Orion Blaze Browne, Dylan Dickhersoon, Zak Havok, Christopher Crash, Shane FulDesires, Evan Danger, Josh Long and J.K. Weezey had my friends and I sweating more than the sun.
One friend declared her deep desire for Chance Encounters, two of my friends couldn’t stop seductively staring at Evan Danger, and my candid crush on Josh Long was instantly re-ignited. HMH had the people applauding with their battle of the boy bands gay pride gig. Some of them even came back later in the day to do solo shows. The theme of Pittsburgh Pride was “Don’t Stop Believing,” and it was certainly an inspiring event!