Parading for Pride, 2021

UA-Fayetteville Education Association/Local 965 was represented in both parades in their city honoring the LGBTQ community, during the June 2021 Pride Month. The Northwest Arkansas events were organized by NWA Equality.

The first was Thursday evening, June 24, the first Trans March in Arkansas. The parade went from the Walton Arts Center to the Town Center. The march and rally were intended to increase visibility and empower transgender, nonbinary, gender variant and gender nonconforming people to come out, as well as protest the state Legislature’s passage of transgender laws, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

At noon Saturday, June 26, a few hundred marchers organized in several dozen groups took part in the 17th annual NWA Pride Parade began near St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, moving west on Dickson Street to the edge of the University of Arkansas campus. Thousands watched and applauded from the sidewalks of Dickson, the city’s main entertainment district.

Lining up for the Local were President Bret Schulte, Vice President Mike Pierce, Secretary Ben Pollock, at-large board member Ted Swedenburg and member Tricia Starks. Other union members marched with other groups in the parade, including at-large board member Chad Kieffer.

We would be remiss if we failed to note the obvious: The Covid pandemic is ending but not over and Saturday’s event is not a good look. We were heartened and grateful that parade organizers and city management arranged the participant groups carefully using health protocols. The current safety guidelines for large gatherings were honored by those participating IN the parade — generally standing at least 6 feet apart and so forth.

That the thousands of onlookers mobbed up shoulder to shoulder like old times with no face coverings and so forth is a worry. We only can hope that the sorts of people who support the principles the parade espoused know the safety and efficacy of the new coronavirus vaccines and got their shots weeks ago.