When Love Wins and Pride Overflows: Starkville’s First Pride Parade

Pride – a time where millions of LGBT+ individuals around the world are able to fully express and celebrate who they are. A time where no matter your differences, there is a home for everyone. Pride parades, in particular, are known for their extravagant displays of love of all kinds and unique feeling of joy for all. Said parades are usually held in more liberal cities such as New York City, D.C., or Atlanta. However, in a monumental step forward, Starkville, Mississippi, which is commonly known as a small conservative city, in a conservative state, decided to join the ranks of the aforementioned cities. This is a story where discrimination could have stopped a major success. However, this story has a happy ending where kindness prevails.

Nearly 3,000 people celebrated Starkville’s first ever Pride parade earlier this year on March 24, 2018. An event of celebration and a representation of the city’s value for its diverse demographic, this amazing event almost wasn’t possible.

After the Starkville Board of Aldermen denied their request to hold the parade, Starkville Pride leaders filed a lawsuit against the city based on their alleged discriminatory decision. Following the filing of this lawsuit, the board voted again to bring the event back into consideration, and after a 3-3 tie, Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill voted to move forward with the Pride parade and bring this vision to life.

A vision led by 22-year-old Starkville Pride Director and Founder Bailey McDaniel, Starkville not only held its first Pride parade ever, but also the largest parade in its city’s history.

People, no matter if they were straight, gay, bisexual, transgender, black, or white, joined together to show their support for the community they love. Marching side by side, step by step, thousands rejoiced with excitement. People have marched in Mississippi before to bring about change, but this Pride parade was also an important step in this state’s history.

A true light in the dark, the focus of this event should not be on its beginning, but instead, its happy ending. An ending that has inspired multiple young people that they too can make a change and has reaffirmed a community of people that not only do they belong in Starkville, but they are also welcomed with open arms.

The Starkville Pride Parade was an event that changed the face of Starkville and hopefully inspires other small rural LGBTQ leaders to push forward, just as Bailey McDaniel did.

Although it was a rough beginning, hopefully, this uplifting ending has left the world in a better place and caught the attention of others wishing to make change, giving them hope, just like a rainbow after a terrible storm. To keep up to date with the advancements and triumphs of Starkville Pride, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

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Terrius Harris

Terrius Harris, 22, lives in Oxford, MS as a current undergraduate student at the University of Mississippi aspiring for a Bachelor of Business Administration in international business degree and a Bachelor of Arts in French; with minors in international studies, environmental studies, marketing, and entrepreneurship. It is his professional goal to one day be a U.N. Ambassador, a role in which he desires to identify and understand the international relevance of indigenous communities worldwide.

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