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LBGTQ community, supporters flood downtown Fargo for annual Pride Parade

FARGO -- Thousands of people lined downtown's north Broadway for the community's annual Pride Parade on Sunday. The celebration by the LGBTQ community and family, friends and supporters.featured lots of smiles and laughter under bright, sunny skies.

The Fargo-Moorhead Pride Parade drew several thousand people to downtown Fargo to celebrate and support the LGBT community on Sunday, Aug. 21. Many parade participants dyed their hair or wore brightly colored wigs and rainbow-colored clothing. Photo by Helmut Schmidt/The Forum
"Love is Love" was the message by this participant in the Fargo-Moorhead Pride Parade on Sunday, Aug. 21, in downtown Fargo. Several thousand people lined the parade route, and several hundred stayed for a rally in front of the Civic Memorial Auditorium afterward. Photo by Helmut Schmidt/Forum News Service
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FARGO - Thousands of people lined downtown's north Broadway for the community's annual Pride Parade on Sunday.

The celebration by the LGBTQ community and family, friends and supporters.featured lots of smiles and laughter under bright, sunny skies.

"Happy Pride!" yelled a man in a purple body stocking, as he wove through the crowd sprinkling glitter over bystanders.

Brandon Elverud of Fargo was taking in his first Pride Parade.

"Being a gay man, I can celebrate who I am without any worries, just to be proud of who I am," Eleverud said.

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A woman wearing a rainbow propeller beanie danced as a truck rolled down the parade route, speakers blaring "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga.

"This is the best day of the year!" declared the woman, who only identified herself as "Tank."

"Everybody gets to come out and be themselves and nobody gets to judge anyone," Tank said.

"It's a day of freedom in Fargo. It's also about having others learn about our culture and being able to accept" people for who they are, Tank said.

"I think it's a fabulous event, seeing everybody coming out celebrating diversity," said Melanie Warrens of Fargo.

A woman who identified herself only as "Rachel" marched carrying a sign saying, "All are welcome. FM Rainbow Families".

Rachel said she marches in many such parades around the country.

"Just to see that they (pride parades) can happen in a smaller community like Fargo ... I think that's awesome," Rachel said.

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Following the parade, several speakers addressed a few hundred people at a rally in the park space in front of the Fargo Civic Center and City Hall.

The event, emceed by District 44 state Rep. Joshua Boschee, started with a rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" by the Fargo-Moorhead Gay Men's Chorus.

Kelly Coxsyn of Fargo urged participants to keep fighting for equal rights in housing and jobs.

"We have to make it better. We have come a long way ... but as adults, we have to make it better" for the generations that follow, Coxsyn said.

Rally-goers were also urged to vote for Hillary Clinton in the November general election.

Writer and activist James Duke Mason of West Hollywood, Calif., called Donald Trump "one of the worst candidates in the history of this country on the Republican side."

Mason said Trump may have sounded like a supporter of the gay community in the past, but that his vice presidential running mate, Mike Pence is perhaps the most anti-gay politician in America.

Trump has thrown other supporters under the bus, and "if it's politically expedient, he'll do it to us, too," Mason said.

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Boschee urged rally-goers to continue to push for equal rights in employment and housing in North Dakota.

Boschee said lawmakers were 13 votes shy of passing a law in 2015 to make discrimination in housing or the workplace on the basis of sexuality illegal in North Dakota.

"What we need to do is either change the minds of the people that are here who do not (support the LGBT community) to become supporters, or remove them from office, and elect more people" who support equal rights, he said.

Boschee said passing a non-discrimination bill should be the goal for the 2017 Legislature, "so that none of us, regardless of whether we're straight, gay, pan, trans, bi, can be threatened with losing our job or losing our home."

The Fargo-Moorhead Pride Parade drew several thousand people to downtown Fargo to celebrate and support the LGBT community on Sunday, Aug. 21. Many parade participants dyed their hair or wore brightly colored wigs and rainbow-colored clothing. Photo by Helmut Schmidt/The Forum
The Fargo-Moorhead Pride Parade drew several thousand people to downtown Fargo to celebrate and support the LGBT community on Sunday, Aug. 21. Many parade participants dyed their hair or wore brightly colored wigs and rainbow-colored clothing. Photo by Helmut Schmidt/Forum News Service

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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