BC shows its pride

On Sunday, June 28, members of Bellevue College’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Resource Center, marched in the 2009 Official Seattle Pride Parade. Consisting of roughly 15 individuals, the group was given the chance to represent the College and its newly formed resource center, being the only one of its kind for a community college in the entire state.

The parade started at approximately 12:00 p.m. on the corner of Fourth Street and Union, and continued northward on fourth until reaching PrideFest at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center.

The College’s Pride Parade representatives, most of which initially convened at Bellevue’s Eastgate Park and Ride, met behind Seattle’s Public Health float, after previously signing in to the parade’s required check-in/sign-in sheet.

In order to attend the day’s events, the majority of the college’s Pride Parade representatives met at Bellevue’s Eastgate Park and Ride, to take the 554 bus into downtown. Though still running, numerous buses, including the 554, had to make detours around Seattle’s Fourth Avenue where the parade was to be taking place.

The parade was host to many decorated floats, scantly clothed men and women, and cheering crowds. While other participants in the parade, such as Market Optical, sported a float adorned with rainbows, signs, and sequins, the College’s representatives used other mediums to show their pride.

Though having no float between them, teachers and staff, friends, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, gays, lesbians, and trans alike, walked arm-in-arm proudly donning custom made tie-dyed shirts with large text reading “Bellevue College.” Amongst the loud noise and the bright colors of drag queens complimented by rainbow flags, people’s eyes immediately became fixated on this group.

Before describing the College’s newly formed LGBTQ Resource Center and GSA club, the representatives were announced as a whole, via microphone, to a large crowd of supporters.

Smiles beamed brightly from the faces of Lori Saffin, advisor to the GSA club, and students Alexandra Simas, new President of the LGBTQ Resource Center, and Rebecca Fischler. All three were advocates of the College’s newly formed resource center, as well as members of the LGBTQ community and GSA club.

“It was very inspiring to walk around Pacific Science Center and see all of the booths providing resources for the LGBTQ community. I feel it’s unfortunate, however, that many Bellevue students do not have access to these available resources, and as the leader of the College’s new resource center, I’d like to make steps towards bringing the two closer together,” said Simas.

From here the parade ended promptly for the College’s group around 2:30 p.m., as the parade entered Denny Way (across from the Pacific Science Center) after about two-and-a-half hours of marching through Seattle’s Fourth Avenue. This, however, was merely the end to the parade, Seattle’s PrideFest, located in and around Pacific Science Center, was just beginning.

Thousands of people, consisting of a variety of homosexuals, transsexuals, heterosexuals, etc… flocked to the many booths and tents set up all around the center. These tents offered different resources, from safe sex products, to better cell phone service. The tents and makeshift fast food trailers were also accompanied by live musical performances performed on a stage constructed especially for the event.

Though described as being an “exhilarating” and a “one-of-a-kind” experience by a participants at Sunday’s celebration, the parade and PrideFest itself were merely the first of a long list of other events associated with the LGBTQ community.

These other events included the “Run and Walk with Pride ” (sponsored by Seattle Frontrunners), which hosted a 4k walk, a 4k run, a 10k walk, and festivities at Seward Park on June 14.

Another was “Seattle Pride Feast,” that was started in 2008 to raise funds for non-profit organizations in the LGBTQ community. Held on June 26, individuals were invited to book a table at Pride Feast participating restaurants, and a portion of the proceeds would be donated towards health and wellness organizations and funding for PrideFest.

On June 27, “Seattle’s hottest floating T-dance,” was put on, in collaboration with the official Pride Cruise, which left Pier 55 and traveled around Puget Sound. Boarding at 5:00 p.m. and departing thirty minutes later, the Argosy Cruise boat was host to dancing, drinking, and singing while providing passengers a view of Elliot Bay and the rest of the Sound.  The cruise, part of Washington’s “Spirit of Seattle” line, returned to Pier 55 at 9:30 p.m.

Looking back on the day’s events, Fischler said, “I think I was very fortunate to be able to bring a “questioning” member of the LGBTQ community that came from a very conservative family and background.”

Fischler added that her friend felt that, “everyone was so comfortable with themselves and accepting of others.”

“It’s important for people who are just coming out to know that they aren’t alone,” said Fischler.

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