NVU marches in Gay Pride parade


Caroline Loftus

Along the parade route

Flamboyant, bright, colorful and energetic could aptly describe the Sept. 10 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride March on Church Street in Burlington.


The parade proceeded throughout the entirety of Church Street and ended up in Battery Park to finish off with a well-attended festival.


The first pride parade was in 1970 in the aftermath of the raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York City that galvanized a gay community living mostly in the shadows. It was a public call for basic human rights.


The Pride Center of Vermont, PCVT, started in 1999. According to their website, “New England’s most comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing community and the health and safety of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Vermonters.”


Arriving two hours before the parade was scheduled to start, I found Church Street already crowded. Each person had their own individual style. Everywhere I looked, people sporting beautiful, colorful outfits danced. Homemade signs were waved around that said anything from “Old Lesbians for Equality” to “Trans Rights Are Human Rights.”


When Johnson State College and Lyndon State College, soon to be united as Northern Vermont University, showed up to the parade, every student was covered in color, waving around the NVU banner. The students from both campuses meshed as if they had known each other for years.


Meeting up with some fellow students who went to the parade independently, we stood on the side of the road eagerly waiting for the distant sound of drums to near.


“I absolutely love the energy these events bring forward,” said Ria Leveret, one of the students who watched the parade independently. “The music, the people, the location, everything about it was appealing to me. I come to these events because it is so important to support those around you and the rights they deserve. I had to come and give my support, especially for NVU.”


Drawing closer, the sound of tambourines and drums filled the air. Led by police, the parade quickly approached. People playing horns, guitars, clarinets, and more, paraded down the road, making beautiful music that lifted the energy of everyone all around.


Quickly behind, a large group of smiling kids decked out with pride flags and face paint rode their bikes. Men wearing bright gold speedos danced behind, blowing whistles and waving ribbons through the cool air coming off of Lake Champlain.


Many local companies and organizations joined, including Hannaford, Saints and Poets Production Company, and the First Unitarian Universalists Society. The sound of hundreds of spectator voices was drowned out by the energetic singing of the traditional folk tune, “Come and Go with Me.”


A tall, lumber-jack looking man strutted by, wearing a red “My Penis Is Huge” t-shirt accompanied with a leather kilt, waving a toilet seat saying “Dump Trump.” Screaming behind him was Northern Vermont University, sprouting huge smiles and laughing.


With the NVU contingent approaching, the crowd of spectating NVU students went wild. People started chanting “Go NVU!” repeatedly. At least 20 students were behind the banner, marching proudly.


The parade moved on, ending up at the festival in Battery Park a few blocks down the road.


Andie Flavel, the graduate assistant for student and leadership services at SERVE, helped coordinate the transportation and logistics behind NVU’s involvement.


Assisting with arrangements for the parade was not a simple matter, according to Flavel. “First we asked the directors of the Pride parade how many volunteers they needed and they said, ‘As many as you can get,’” she said. “We could only get a small van at the time reserved, so we could only take up to six volunteers and we had signups in here in my office and a waitlist, and we would contact the volunteers. A lot of our involvement has a lot to do with logistics. We have this event going on — how are we going to get them from point A to point B? A lot of advertisement went into the parade. All of the posters, the banners on the portal. All of it was because want to advertise to as many people as possible.”


President of the Pride Club Katie Czermerys loved every aspect of this event. “I joined my second semester of last year and have always been a part of some sort of Gay Straight Alliance or Pride alliance, as I do identify with the community,” she said.


As club president Czermerys had to organize how they were getting to the parade and facilitate who wanted to attend.


When she first joined Pride, she didn’t go in with any expectations besides having a good time, but she found much more than she expected: “I really got to know the people in the alliance and the club has grown a lot. We ended last year with seven students, and now we have twenty-three.”


The Burlington Pride parade was an event filled with laughter and love. With my first pride parade crossed off my bucket list, I can wholeheartedly say that it was one of the most empowering and enjoyable experiences I have ever had.