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Of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgendered

Listed as number nine on the 2012 gayest city in the United States of America, Atlanta boasts of having by far the largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) event dubbed Atlanta Pride. This is an event that brings together LGBT and straight allies to festivities that include diverse events such as music and dance, information vendors including NGOs and Health Organisations as well as cultural exhibits. Atlanta pride is expected to bring 200,000 attendants.

So how did I find myself at the Atlanta 2012 pride? I was minding my own business in the office when one of my workmates casually mentioned that it was National Coming Out Day. This aroused my curiosity and I laughingly asked her what the coming out was all about. She along with my other workmates patiently took time explaining to me that the day was to encourage all LGBT to come out and be proud of who they were without fear. As my jaw dropped open in realization that this was no joke, my co-workers went on to tell me that infact, there were a number of activities lined up for the weekend at Piedmont Park including the large gay parade. I knew right there and then that I would have to go and witness these proceedings over the weekend.

Turning out to be a very interesting revelation for me and I hastened to share with my colleagues back home in Zambia on my favorite platform Facebook, I quickly shared the fact that there was something called National coming out day in the U.S and as expected there were a lot of divergent views on the matter some of which went biblical with others calling on the Messiah to return. It’s no wonder Zambia was declared a Christian Nation. In sharing some of the responses on facebook, I told my co-workers that where I came from our constitution clear stipulates that being Gay or Lesbian is illegal and punishable by law.

I managed to wake up early on Saturday morning maybe from sheer excitement. I called my friend and asked him what time we would head towards piedmont Park, his response was afternoon and I disappointedly told him how we would be late. As things turned out I was the one that was running behind time. As I sat on the train engrossed in my book, after hearing my station announced on the speakers I raised my head in time to notice that the train was really packed with people and seemingly everyone was getting off and heading towards Piedmont Park.  Scanning the train station amidst the many people leaving I managed to spot my friend and enthusiastically called out to him waving my book in the air. Fortunately, he looked my way and smiled as I apologized to him for being late and off we headed Atlanta Pride.

Piedmont Park is one of the largest Parks in Atlanta Georgia with a well maintained lawn, I couldn’t help but marvel at its breath taking beauty. I turned to my colleague and said this place is so beautiful and must be extremely expensive to maintain, thinking of the cleaning, trimming and watering that needs to be done – he just looked my way and smiled.

We walked to what may have been the centre of the park amidst zealous shouts of happy pride from what looked like happy proud Lesbian and Gay couples. What struck me first was the bright rainbow colored outfit and flags which were similar to the Rastafarian colors except these seemed brighter. I later came to learn that colors are the symbol of LGBT Pride.

As we got closer to the heart of all the celebrations located in the center of the Park, our eyes were treated to a throng of people. I walked up to a man who was toying with a hoola hoop and asked to give it a try as my colleague watched me lamentably fail, I told them that back in the days I was really good and would walk for miles working my waist and not letting my hoola hop touch the ground. I walked away a very disappointed woman wondering what had changed so much so that I could not let the hoop make two rounds on my waist.

My colleague and I bought some snacks and couldn’t help but seat on the beautiful lawn while watching the events that were unfolding before us. Even though I have so many gay colleagues, for the first time in my life I came face to face with many lesbian and gay couples, they were so many and somewhere really old people. Well, maybe the fact that this was the 42 Atlanta Pride event should have told me something. As we watched couples strolling  in the park I turned to my collegue and pointed out an elderly couple and asked him to guess how old he may have been when the two got together.

We finally decided to take a tour of the different stalls the first being Delta Airlines. We went from stall to stall and learnt so much about the LGBT community its politics and a lot on health matters. The vendors had so much to give including stickers, flags, bottles and condoms. We did so much walking and looking without realizing that we had walked around for two hours straight. In the end as we walked out of that park we found two men with a banner right at the gate of Piedmont Park. 

As I stood right in the middle on my left was a large group of people on my right were two men reading scripture in the Middle were cops. Being the curios Zambian that I am I quickly asked the nearest person what was happening and I was told that they were protesters. The men were protesting against the Pride and the gentleman then went on to tell me that the fact that there were two people protesting was progress because 5 years ago there would have been hundreds of protesting. As he walked towards the traffic lights he turned towards me and said “these guys are talking about choices, this is not a choice because if it were I would have chosen otherwise”. I was left trying to decipher what he meant by that as I walked back to the train station and thus ended my day at the Gay Pride exhibition.


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