By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com June 23, 2010
Nearly 1,500 people gathered on the steps of the Statehouse on June 19 to celebrate the 17th annual Pride, the one day a year when LGBT friends and allies are free to openly express pride in themselves, their families and their community.
A short rally opened the dayâ€™s events. Monica Hopkins, Executive Director of ACLU Idaho was the keynote speaker (video below). Hopkins addressed a diverse crowd that included everyone from young families to senior citizens and who came from as far as Idaho Falls and Portland. She emphasized the need for people to â€œcome outâ€ and â€œwork diligently on public policy issues.â€ With the recent closing of the Idaho Womenâ€™s Network and Idaho Equality, that leaves the ACLU as the only statewide organization working directly on LGBT public policy issues.
After the rally, the mile-long paradeâ€”led by the hallmark rainbow balloon arch, followed by an 80-foot tall rainbow flagâ€”marched to the festivities at Ann Morrison Park. Boise Prideâ€™s executive director, Tom Thompson, estimated overall attendance at 7,500. At a cost of $30,000 to put on, early estimates indicate a small profit from the festival as a result of the first ever $1 gate fee. Some festival goers complained about the fence that encircled the crowd but Thompson says it was required for liability and security issues and provides accurate attendance figures to prospective sponsors and vendors.
Over the years, protesters have always been present, carrying signs and chanting, but for the first time in Boise Pride history no anti-gay protesters showed. Many view that as a positive sign of progress. BW talked to a number of people for the video below, asking what people think are the most pressing issues facing Idahoâ€™s LGBT community and how Boise compares to other communities in terms of being LGBT friendly.