I Love a Parade, But…

We’re coming upon another Gay Pride festival and parade. Unfortunately, I have to decide whether I want to attend the parade. The last two years, I have left disappointed, rather than proud. I’m 60 years old.

Last year, I talked to another man older than me in the Brass Rail. He expressed the same sentiments I had. Why wasn’t an American flag leading the possession? Two years ago, they had a flag, but many parade attendees didn’t have the respect to stand up.

As an avid reader of Lavender and the news in it, I feel we have it pretty good in this country. We don’t hang people because they’re gay. Our country allows gay parades, while some countries ban them.

I’m disappointed that the parade has become a venue for politics, as important as it is, but isn’t this to celebrate our achievements? I felt the car with the sign “Fore Play, Not War Play” was unnecessary.

Lastly, I’m disappointed that a few equate this as time for indecent dress and behavior. A man was walking his dog in just a jockstrap. That doesn’t help to advance a positive image for the gay community.

I hope we can do better this year?

Gene Erickson

Pride Fireworks Pose Ecological Harm

Pride Weekend in Loring Park means so much to so many people. It’s the culmination of a week of intense community building, political outreach, and ribald fun.

It’s a tragic irony that this time of revelry for so many GLBT Twin Citians marks the end of life for some of Loring Park’s precious wildlife. I’m referring to the celebratory fireworks that are launched from the dock of Loring Pond at the end of Pride Weekend. This “last hurrah” produces unintended ecological consequences.

June is high season for nesting birds. The ponds and surrounding marsh contain countless unseen hatchlings—babies too young to fend for themselves should their parents abandon the nest.

And that’s exactly what birds do when pyrotechnics are launched.

Dr. David Noakes, a zoologist at the University of Guelph, Ontario, and researchers at Acadia University, Nova Scotia, found that the combined responses to fireworks of panic and disorientation can result in birds flying into buildings or too far away from their nests.

“After a loud bang, most birds fly away in fright, and the nesting mothers of the flock sometimes cannot find their own nest upon return, endangering the well-being of nestlings,” Noakes said.

Surface water contamination is another unintended consequence of fireworks.

An article in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, reported in The New York Times last year, said that, when released into the environment, perchlorate—a compound used in solid rocket fuel—is a human-health concern and a risk to wildlife.

According to the article, ”Prior to [fireworks displays, sampled lake water] contained less than one-tenth of a microgram of perchlorate per liter. By 14 hours after the festivities, however, concentrations had spiked….Researchers found a maximum concentration of more than 44 micrograms per liter in 2006. By comparison, California has set a standard of six micrograms per liter….”

The surface area of the sampled lake is 16 acres. The surface area of Loring Pond is eight acres.

Natural space in urban areas where wildlife and humans can coexist is critically low. Minneapolis Parks and Recreation has done a wonderful job of creating a beautiful, welcoming environment for a wide variety of species, making Loring Park an example of how we can coexist.

What a shame to trade that in for a fleeting moment of “oohs and aahs.”

Kay Hansen

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