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

Letters are subject to editing for grammar, punctuation, space, and libel. They should be no more than 300 words. Letters must include name, address, and phone number. Unsigned letters will not be published. Priority will be given to letters that refer to material previously published in Lavender Magazine. Submit letters to Lavender Magazine, Letters to the Editor, 3715 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55407; or e-mail [email protected]

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  1. Robert West on June 20, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Many of us in the GLBT community have been wondering who on the Gay Pride Committee suggested professional fireworks in Loring Park. Hello folks, it’s not all about you. We already have the use of the entire park for 2-3 days. Encircling the ponds with hundreds of booths and thousands of laughing, celebrating people. A good time for all! Let’s not do anything that will reflect poorly on Gay Pride. Let’s not get greedy and push for fireworks at the expense of the environment and wildlife in Loring Park.

    This doesn’t sit well with most in the community. If you can’t live without fireworks, why not simply join the rest of the GBLT community who travel down to the river on the 4th of July? That yearly fireworks display can’t be beat.

    Rob W.

  2. Richard Carper on June 24, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    I love the fact that people give Pride a big hassle for the firework display (which they have been doing for many YEARS) because it’s bad for the environment and even suggests going down to the river where there is even MORE wildlife than there is in the middle of the City in redesigned man made park that had been carved up and carted away in 1880. Does the Aquatennial get the same kind of flack?

    As for the flag, I believe there is an American Flag at the grandstand where the National Anthem is sang prior to the Parade starting. Look for it!

    Richard C.

  3. Amy on June 25, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Being an avid nature lover I have to wonder if Kay has ever visted an actual nature preserve, there are several that are quite good on the outskirts of the metro area, and a wonderful one across the river from downtown St. Paul (bruce vento nature preserve) that concentrate on providing the appropriately inviting natural habitate that Minnesota’s native species desire.
    In all of the time I have spent in Loring park, before, durring, and after Pride weekend I have never seen even a baby goose in the park. Honestly I think that the hundreds of other lakes, ponds, and marshes in the area that are not in the middle of a highly used public park surrounded by major roads influence most Twin Cities area wildlife to nest elsewhere. I have, however, been acosted by starlings(an invasive species of birds that often out competes native birds for nesting grounds and food), pigeons, and the infamous Loring Park attack squirrels.
    Fireworks are a time honoured method of celebrating everything from births and deaths to weddings and the New year.
    I beleive that the positive cutural impact of a fireworks display far outweigh any potential negative impacts on the “wildlife” of Loring Park.

  4. Otis Villanueva on June 25, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I am immensely excited for this weekend’s Pride festival. While some may feel it’s a weekend for drinking and debauchery, I know it’s much more than that. It’s a weekend where we’re not the minority. In fact, we’re a super majority. The Twin Cities may not be the largest metropolitan area in the country, yet we boast the third largest Pride celebration in the country. How positive and reassuring for young gays and lesbians, and those questioning their sexuality, to look around and see hundreds of thousands of proud people, smiling and celebrating how far we’ve come. We are truly fortunate to have such a positive, reaffirming event in our own backyard. See you there!

  5. Alex Janzen on June 25, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Pride never gets proper credit as a local 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its board of volunteers works year-round to plan everyone else’s “party.”
    For those on the board, however, Pride is so much more than that.

    According to tcpride.org, Twin Cities Pride strives to “commemorate and celebrate our diverse heritage, inspire the achievement of equality and challenge discrimination.” It is ironic and sad that as the organization works for the public’s legitimate acceptance of our community, those within its community completely disregard its historic grassroots effots.

    After all, after reading my copy of this very publication’s Pride Edition, there is only one person I can think of who shows less regard for Twin Cities Pride and its upcoming official events: Ms. Bachmann. Now shame on all of us!

  6. Thomas on June 25, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    I recieved an e-mail about this topic from Ms. Hanson over a month ago. I did listen to her concerns, and was moved by the impressive writing skills she possesses to take thought in what she had written.

    Because I am not an expert on the subject, I decided to defer my judgment of the operations of Twin Cities Pride to the actual Board of Directors who have been volunteering their own time, money, and energy for years to produce these events.

    Also, I am not an expert on the subject on nature or wildlife, so I asked whether or not one or more had been consulted, rather than attempting to put my judgment or research skills ahead of those who have studied the effects of fireworks displays.

    I was reassured to learn that the organization had, in fact, consulted an expert on the subject, has a permit from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (which has a responsibility to protect wildlife in the parks), and has also made contacts with MN DNR for their opinions.

    I cannot believe that Twin Cities Pride has ignored concerns which have been raised by one or more people in the community about the fireworks displays, nor can I believe that the organization didn’t have that concern in mind from the conception and execution of the plans for fireworks this year nor in past years. With willingness to find the truth, rather than acting righteously in my own or affilated self-interests, and with open dialogue, I am satisfied with the response that I have recieved regarding the issue.

    I can also trust that Twin Cities Pride has heard my concerns about the information I have recieved from Ms. Hanson, and has made more than enough effort to ensure the safety of the community and wildlife of Loring Park, and will continue to.

  7. Jean-Nickolaus Tretter on June 26, 2008 at 9:40 am

    I guess it is just human nature to want to overlook the positive things and register comments only on the negative side. One thing that is very positive that is always overlooked because we here in Minnesota have become a bit complacient about it is the History Pavilion. Each year the Pride Committee provides all of the funding for these exhibits and for the last several years the University of Minnesota Libraries has also become involved in upgrading and further developing the GLBT World History exhibit. Are you aware that TC Pride pioneered having history exhibits at Pride Festivals? Ours started in 1983 and has been present at every local Pride Festival since that time – This year 2008 marks the 25th anniversary of our history exhibits – the only Pride Festival to have consistantly provided exhibits each and every year. Are you aware that our GLBT World History exhibit travels to other Pride Festivals and events all over the world? Our exhibit has been in Moscow, Warsau, Poland, Stockholm, Sweden and this year even in Sarasota, FL. We get requests from Pride Festivals almost everywhere to bring our exhibit to their festival because they want something more substantial than just a big party. And, when they have shown it the people that attend those festivals have even “forced” those Pride Committees to bring it back again year after year. Have any of these complainers ever even visited the GLBT World History exhibit? Have they ever donated even one hour of their time to help develop or staff the exhibit? Have they even dropped one dollar in the donation box that helps to pay for the exhibit and its up keep and further development? There are also many other things that the local Pride Committee tries to provide for, to keep our Festival growing and more relevant to our very diverse community. Perhaps this year some of the those who enjoy complaining should try to enjoy some of the many positive aspects of the Pride Festival. Constructive criticism is always welcome but contructive criticism can also be positive. Try enjoying the Festival, you might be pleasently surprised.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Jean-Nickolaus Tretter
    TC Pride Historian

  8. Jada on June 26, 2008 at 11:05 am

    In response to Richard’s comment specifically, I wish to point out that Loring Lake is *not* a man made lake. Loring Park (originally called Central Park) was designed by Horace Cleveland in the 1880s, but the park was designed around the existing lake. All of the early Minneapolis maps, including the original drawings by Mr. Cleveland show the lake prominantly. If you don’t believe me, check it out in the library and archives at the Hennepin History Museum.
    It strikes me as odd how seemingly against city wildlife the authors of these comments are, I love Pride (and have been going for 12 years), but I would happily give up the 8 minutes of fireworks in exchange for the nearly year round geese (which are easy to find on the south side of the park), anyday.

  9. Ryan Durant on June 26, 2008 at 12:48 pm


    If you hadn’t stated your age, I would have assumed you were very young. You are, “…disappointed that the parade has become a venue for politics…” The parade started as a political march, it hasn’t become political. If anything, it has become far less political, and far less extreme than it has been in the past. The original pride guide was made to fold into a frisbee shape, so it could be tossed away from you easily – people didn’t want trouble for being involved! For my part, I am disappointed that Pride is less and less about activism, and more about visibility. We may have come a long way, but we’ve got a long way to go. Sure, we’re not hanged for being gay. We’re just not allowed to be married in a federally recognized way, we’re not allowed to serve our military even in a time of war and enlistment shortfalls, and in many places, it is still socially acceptable to refer to gay men as fags, even where a certain racial ‘n’ word has finally fallen out of use. Luckily, Pride does still provide a very important service: A vehicle for activism. Pride may have (d)evolved into a big party, but the partygoers walk past a lot of cause-driven booths, and see a lot of slogans in a parade. If even a few people are moved to action by this, then Pride is still politically relevant.

    Also, the parade doesn’t start with an american flag. Back when I worked with the organizers, I recall having a discussion about this once or twice, and while I don’t recall if we ever decided on an organizational policy, I do remember what Ashley (the person our parade gets its name from, and owes its size to) giving an opinion, forgive me for paraphrasing, but she’s been gone a while now: “It’s not about national pride. We have the 4th of July for that. It’s about our community pride, and being proud of being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or whatever you are in your bedroom, and not having to hide it.” So, if you want to salute a flag, salute the rainbow as it goes by. If you need to prove you patriotism, wait a couple weeks, and do it at an independence day celebration.

    As far as the display of flesh – I used to agree with you, because it seems that is always what makes the news. But like Ashley said – it’s also about not having to hide. I take the display as a visual argument for not having to hide anything. Besides, all of the outfits are street-legal, or the police remove the participant. It’s happened before, and I’m sure it will happen again.

    I always find it funny that people find the time to write complaints to magazines and papers about Pride, but almost no one writes them TO Pride. Fewer still thank the people who volunteer their time all year long to make the events possible at all. As mentioned by another commenter – both the DNR and the park board sign off on fireworks occuring, and the canoe rides in the pond. Both of which do disturb wildlife, but according to the DNR don’t disturb it enough to raise concern.

    Enjoy the celebration, and find a cause to work for!

    Ryan Durant

  10. Jason M. on June 26, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    I’m a friend of Richard C. so hopefully he won’t mind correcting some misinformation. Please folks do your homework before you write letters. It makes it easier on everyone.

    Richard C.: I love the fact that people give Pride a big hassle for the firework display (which they have been doing for many YEARS)

    Correction: Fireworks were only added a few years back. Even the Gay Pride folks could tell you this. Fireworks are not instrumental Gay Pride. Treating everyone as equals, and protecting those that can’t protect themselves should be instrumental to Gay Pride.

    Richard C.: Harmful fireworks have not been because it’s bad for the environment and even suggests going down to the river where there is even MORE wildlife than there is in the middle of the City

    Correction: Per DNR or (anyone who knows the Mississippi River where the fire works are set-off), That stretch of river doesn’t contain a Marsh with Egrets, Herons and other wildlife (packed into a small) area as Loring does.

    Richard C.: in redesigned man made park that had been carved up and carted away in 1880. Does the Aquatennial get the same kind of flack?

    Correction: Again, Loring Park is not the same arena as other areas where fireworks are ignited. Volumes of “caring” people are merely saying we don’t need to “expand” fireworks and ad them to Loring Park. This is a simple concept. Even fireworks lovers are saying no to Loring Park for the explosions, and harm to wildlife etc. I just learned the Citizens For A Loring Park Community recently voted “no” to any future fireworks in Loring Park. Much of that decision was based on the information learned from the DNR and other individuals who have made it their life work to protect the environment. Anyone can search the net for studies and data.

    Richard C.: As for the flag, I believe there is an American Flag at the grandstand where the National Anthem is sang prior to the Parade starting. Look for it!

    Correction: I’m not going to address that statement. Someone else will have to explain your thinking is off.

    Jason M.

  11. Ryan Durant on June 26, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Jason – Richard and I were both on the board when the fireworks started. It has been less than a decade, but he said YEARS, not DECADES. So his statment is true. I think they started in ’01 or ’02. (The year before the pride guide that has fireworks on the cover.) Besides which, I read his statement as people have been complaining for years. Perhaps I misunderstood.

    If Friends of Loring Park has decieded there won’t be fireworks in the park after this year, why is this even a source of debate? I think all Richard (and I) were saying was that the board of directors did ask who they thought was the right people to ask if fireworks were okay to do, before doing them. They didn’t commission a study about it, but if they had, people would instead be complaining that they wasted money of an enironmental study instead of adding to the festival. In that regard they cannot win – they are rarely thanked for what they do right, and always lambasted for percieved wrongs. If this trend continues, it will eventually cause community input to be held in lower regard. After all, if no matter what you did, your friends, family and co-workers found fault, and they never praised you, wouldn’t you eventually decide that you weren’t going to listen to them anymore?

  12. R. Mathews on June 27, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Objective View

    I’m keeping my posting on a positive note and will refrain from “labeling” individuals who care about all communities and wildlife as complainers. I’m just a gay man who shares the thoughts of the majority of Minnesota’s gay community (millions nationwide), who care about their environment and wildlife.

    I like fireworks but where it’s appropriate. It shouldn’t become a political issue. I knew nothing about this issue until recently when overhearing people in the community expressing their concerns the fireworks of recent years were needless and damaging.

    I’ve since read two local articles on the issue as well as Googled the subject to educate myself. I was amazed at the studies conducted on the issue worldwide. Many caring professional residing in the US have conducted and published their findings. All easily accessed via the net.

    Is it really that important to those few individuals to ignore the studies and experts on this issue? It’s apparent a few folks may be too close to this issue and have lost their objective reasoning. No one is picking on Gay Pride nor saying they don’t do good things. Please don’t try to mislead people by using the “victim” card. We are an empowered community, and savvy enough to see through the transparency of whining about how unappreciated one or two people feel. I’ve heard nothing but praise for the thousands who make Gay Pride possible. The only small but important negative reflection has been the damaging fireworks. Which don’t make or break Pride.

    We in the gay community “are” enjoying the Festival. We just don’t think it’s in the best interest of Gay Pride for anyone to label or bully those who question authority or care about the environment.

    Peace to all my brothers and sisters celebrating GAY PRIDE this year!

  13. Thomas on June 27, 2008 at 11:55 am

    When this issue came up before, I e-mailed someone about it before speaking, because I don’t particularly pay much attention to wildlife issues. I suspect that Kay Hanson not only did put a lot of attention and effort into formulating her opinion about this, but also seems to be doing something that not everyone puts much thought or effort into, which is attending to issues concerning nature and wildlife. I do appreciate that she makes a conscious effort to be responsible with the environment, and I personally consider environmental concerns to be important. I’m not very outspoken about the
    subject, nor do I work very hard to correct damage that has been done to this planet and it’s wildlife, so I believe that Ms. Hanson does have a point of value to make, whether or not I agree with her position on this particular subject (which I do agree is an important one).

    Having recieved a quick response from Twin Cities Pride which went above and beyond any expectations I had for the remedy of the issue in my mind, I was informed about the actualities of the situation on a more rational level. That information was satisfactory to me, and did refute the claim that Ms.
    Hanson had made. I am not in a position to justly make decisions for the environment beyond my personal actions but I trust that God handles what
    is meant to be handled by God.

    I hope that others can see fit to view Ms.
    Hanson and her opinions in a positive manner, too, because I have a feeling that she devotes quite a bit of her own resources to a great cause. It would be a
    shame to see that wasted.

  14. Mailand Long on June 28, 2008 at 7:48 am

    To all my sweet boy-toys and gorgeous girls: Let’s not dis’ the pretty song-birds in Loring Park. Their lovely singing is a joy to the heart. They need their peaceful, cozy beds just like you and I.

    Also, certain ingredients in the fireworks may very well be slowly chemically castrating you.

    If you need something to light up your life, I can do a more effective job anyway.

    Pride is always, and should be, organic.

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