Thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children flooded the streets for Atlanta’s 2018 PRIDE parade, marking the 48th consecutive year that the LGBTQ community has marched on the city, flags flying high and unapologetic. The festival took place Sunday, October 14th, from Midtown to Piedmont Park. Festival-goers began to flood into the streets at around 10 a.m. to kick off the vibrant revelry early, despite the march starting well into the afternoon and the festivities continuing into the late evening.
The energy of the parade was infectious. Color, sound, and music exploding from every corner and every crevice of the streets of Atlanta. Joy weaving itself into every hue and bleeding from the rainbow blanketed crowds.
A cacophony of music and laughter wove itself into the environment of the parade, and vendors with carts full of vibrant PRIDE merch shouted into the streets waving various strings of beads and flags and t-shirts. People decked in PRIDE wear and rainbow flags grasped signage painted with a spectrum of colors in their hands, the empowering statements on them as vivid and impassioned as its hues.
Though PRIDE is a celebration meant to empower LGBTQ communities and promote LGBTQ visibility, it is also about more than that; it is about community and solidarity. It is about family. PRIDE is a wholesome demonstration of human strength and compassion, of the human capacity to persevere and love despite all circumstances. Set against Atlanta’s rich history of minority empowerment and public acts of civil disobedience, the continuing tradition of this powerful hallmark of queer culture and empowerment gives honor to a legacy of leaders and courageous acts of resistance for equality.
The parade serves as a call to action in the context of a current tumultuous sociopolitical climate where LGBTQ visibility is more prevalent and necessary than ever. The march becomes a radiant reminder that the struggle for queer rights will always be at the forefront as long as individuals have the courage and ability to fight for it, march on the city in their bold colors hand in hand, and scream to all the world that this community is still here and isn’t leaving anytime soon.
For the upcoming generation of social change agents and leaders, the power of their voice and actions not only drives the future fight for LGBTQ rights and visibility but is also shaping the ‘now’ of it. The most beautiful and hope-eliciting aspect of PRIDE was the concentration of young people there who stood unafraid to reclaim their identities and fight for their communities, and for themselves.
Many say that the youth are shaping the future. However, a closer look at the youth-driven movements for change and social activism prove that they are changing the world today. And as these young people pave the way for the generations that will come after, the empowering legacy of Atlanta PRIDE lives on.
Erin Davis is a journalist and photographer who strives to uplift marginalized communities and subcultures through her work and happens to be one of the youths who is shaping today.