This past Sunday, October 15, I was given the priceless opportunity to walk in the 47th annual Atlanta Pride Festival Parade. I had never been to Pride before, so marching as a Grand Marshall with VOX this year was a great way to capture the high and loving vibes from the watchers.
Growing up in a devout Christian home, supporting gay rights isn’t always celebrated where I’m from. However, I’m grateful to have parents who understand that I support equality regardless of one’s sexuality and allowed me to participate in the Pride parade. I didn’t always support gay rights, and when I was younger, I could easily be described as a “homophobe.” Under Christianity and family beliefs I became very narrow-minded. As I grew up and into my high school years I began developing my own values and beliefs. I realized how absurd and unfair it is to treat another person less than equal and deny them basic rights due to who they love.
Many people think just because the LGBTQ+ community has been granted the right to marry in the United States that discrimination is over. To me, this sounds like someone saying “since Obama was president, racism is over.” We all should know is not the case. I advocate and will continue to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights because attacks such as the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando still occur. I will march because in six countries people could face the death penalty for being in same sex relationships. To me it’s simple, you are either for or against the problem.
On a happier note, I appreciated seeing familiar and unfamiliar faces in the crowd who smiled and cheered me on as I proudly marched with my sign that read:
“Love Is Love! The World Has Issues Bigger Than Girls Who Love Girls and Boys Who Love Boys”
Below is a slideshow of the parade!
Jhoanna, 17, is a senior at Atlanta Girls School.