In the Western world, gay pride parades are a dime-a-dozen. But it's interesting to look back at how our pride parades have evolved over the decades, at least from my experience here in Chicago where I live.
After Stonewall, we (my GLBTQI ancestors) began as a small, unified group of activists who had the audacity to proclaim our sexual orientation in public and to be seen, in the least, as equally human. As the years went by, more of us came out of the shadows (at least once a year) and into the public square. During this time, many different groups were forming and represented our varied social and sexual interests. Even NAMBLA was allowed to be included within our parade ranks.
As we entered the era of AIDS, a tone of political activism took hold. In addition to being a celebratory parade, we publicly cried out and demanded urgent government action to a situation that literally meant life or death. HIV/AIDS would be a prominent 'theme' in our parades for years to come. It was during this period when we learned who our allies were in government. And when we didn't have any, we mobilized and made sure we elected some. To our astonishment, our efforts paid off. Through our successes we were slowly becoming a noticeable political force. Some of our gay-friendly politicians even took an unheard of, ground-breaking political risk and accepted invitations to march in our parade.
Over the years, as a newly recognized community of power and influence, our parades started to become even more political and surprisingly commercialized. Select progressive corporations were sponsoring floats and underwriting advertising. Our community was catered to and openly solicited for our business dollars. Politicians who wanted to be reelected clamored to be seen in our yearly celebration. Governors, mayors, and many local, state and national representatives have become prominent fixtures at our parades.
What was once a gathering of the oppressed and fringe elements of our society has morphed into a family-friendly event which includes churches and school groups. It's quite a spectacular achievement for such a short period of time.
As I watch the above video of the events taking place in India, I feel a sense of pride and overwhelming excitement for them. They are embarking on the same initial journey we took here in the West. I know many of us have become jaded in regards to our own pride parades, but our Western social advances and our personal gay pride effect those around the globe. Hopefully the journey for the Indians and for all others will be just as successful as ours and quicker.