ASU students synced with the colorful and vibrant LGBTQ crowd Saturday morning to set the tone for a triumphant celebration of Phoenix Pride Parade & Festival.
Delta Lambda Phi, ASU’s inclusive fraternity for gay, bisexual and progressive men, joined more than 3,000 jovial people dressed and painted in rainbow colors on a sunny morning.
Saluted by smiling people on the sidewalks, Delta Lambda Phi, represented by seven members, walked in the parade, cheered, danced and proudly carried the fraternity banner for almost two miles along Third Street.
Delta Lambda Phi was joined by two members of Sigma Phi Beta, another inclusive fraternity.
Xander Mach, Delta Lambda Phi vice president and psychology senior, celebrated Phoenix Pride for the fourth time. Walking in the parade was more about bonding with the community rather than carrying a special message to the public, he said.
“We’ve had all these struggles, and we’re going to show people that that’s okay and we’re getting over it,” he said.
The fraternity was founded in 1986 in Washington, D.C., to provide gay men with an open and a safe place. Because this place exists now, it is important for Delta Lambda Phi members to get the word out.
“A lot of younger people don’t realize that there might be a safe place for them at ASU, and we can provide them with it,” Mach said.
Danny Zamora, Sigma Phi Beta president and communication senior, said he also came to Pride to get the word out and to enjoy being a part of one big community.
“I love our community here in Arizona, and I just wanna be around them, have fun, say that we have pride in ourselves,” he said.
Digital culture sophomore Alex Talmage, a member of Delta Lambda Phi, came to Phoenix Pride for his second time after experiencing several festivals in New York. Those festivals looked more like a big party, he said. He came for no other reason than having a good time while celebrating Pride with his friends.
“I’m gay, and I’m proud,” he said.
The walk led the participants to the sunlit Steele Indian School Park, where the last lights of the Phoenix Pride festival died out late at night. It gathered more than 20,000 like-minded people who came to watch live performances and socialize in the judgement-free atmosphere.
Nicholas Cruz, psychology and sociology senior and president of Spectrum at ASU West, and Alyssa Napuri, political science junior and a member of Spectrum, came to celebrate their pride at the festival, which has grown exponentially in the last couple of years, they said.
Wearing a glaring pink T-shirt that said “Choke on My Pride,” Cruz said he is not afraid to show who he is anymore.
“Pride’s created a very encouraging environment for all of us,” he said.
Napuri said that she used to be apprehensive, until Pride festivals made her realize she should be proud of herself.
“Most of my growth has happened after Pride, realizing that I can’t be changed but there’s other people around like me, so I’m not alone in this struggle,” she said.
Justin Owen, executive director of Phoenix Pride, said the festival is a way for the businesses and community to support LGBTQ people, especially after Senate Bill 1062 won legislative approval and was then vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer.
Phoenix Pride started as a march on the Capitol and wasn’t always welcome by the public. Now, it is one year away from its 35th anniversary.
“Back in the ’80s and ’90s, it was difficult to get the city to grasp it,” Owen said. “But now Phoenix has become very welcoming and opening to our community as a whole.”
For those places where the situation with LGBTQ community rights doesn’t look quite as bright, Owen said to persevere.
“I’d encourage them to hang on, strive for equality,” he said. “The world is shifting, the tide is shifting and people are starting to recognize that full equality is not just something that people ask for but something they need.”
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