MU Pride Parade brings together students, community members

“High five for love!” Struby Struble, coordinator of the MU LGBTQ resource center, said as hundreds of people celebrating LGBTQ pride passed through Speaker’s Circle.

Students and other Columbia residents marched through campus today in the second annual MU Pride Parade. According to the event’s website, the parade was created to show pride and provide support to all students.

“The Pride Parade is a great way to express how prominent and proud the queer community is,” graduate student Jeffrey Stevens said while sporting a “gaypron,” a rainbow apron covered LGBTQ themed pins. “It’s not just people in the LGBTQ community though, it also includes the allies which is a great way to show support.”

During the MU Pride Parade, participants walked through campus holding signs and shouting chants that support gay rights, such as “Two, four, six, eight equality in every state.”

Mizzou students were not the only marchers, however. Dean Andersen and other members of the Columbia branch of Out, Proud and Healthy joined as well. According to their website, Out, Proud and Healthy is a statewide effort to raise awareness of LGBTQ health disparities in Missouri and connect people with resources and community.

The effort began in 2009 as the Check Out Project and began collecting data on tobacco use in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities around Missouri. In 2010 Out, Proud and Healthy started focusing on a multitude of health issues within the community including drug/alcohol abuse, mental health, healthy eating and positive self-image.

“Our mission is to promote health, mentally and physically, in our community,” Andersen said.

Members of the MU Greek community showed their support by wearing “Mizzou Greek Pride” t-shirts. This is the first year they have made these t-shirts which were offered for free in the Greek Life office above the student center earlier today.

“It’s a just a way for the Greek community to reach out to the LGBTQ community and this is our way of showing support,” Panhellenic Association President Paige Tenckhoff said.

Another non-university group that joined the parade was the CoMo Derby Dames, a team of roller derby girls who handed out pins with rainbows and roller skates on them. Other organizations present included Mizzou OUTgrads and Lambda Legal, the MU Law schools LGBTQ ally organization.

Normally, pride parades are held during June in commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, but event organizers chose April so that as many students as possible could participate in the parade. The Stonewall riots were a series of violent demonstrations involving members of the gay community in 1969. Police were accused of often raiding the Stonewall Inn in New York City because it was known to cater toward the gay community, which eventually led to confrontation.

The first gay pride parade was held in Los Angeles on June 28, 1970, in remembrance of those riots.




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