article about NC PRIDE this past weekend
BY GINNY SKALSKI : The Herald-Sun
Sep 24, 2005 : 9:59 pm ET
DURHAM -- It can be hard to stand out when you're marching in a parade behind floats with dancing drag queens, shirtless bikers donning leather vests and adorable dogs sporting rainbow-colored bandanas.
But one group of gay marriage supporters carrying poles with hundreds of dangling hearts had no trouble eliciting cheers from the scores of people who lined up along Duke University's East Campus wall Saturday to watch the 21st annual N.C. Pride Parade.
Hundreds of people hollered and applauded when the group from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh walked down West Main Street raising poles covered with foam hearts decorated with messages like "love should not be legislated" and "love is for all."
"We're showing that there is a significant amount of support for marriage equality within faith communities," said Tracy Hollister, the project leader for the Equal Hearts campaign.
Durham has been the backdrop for the parade and festival for the last six years. The event offers a "a real sense of solidarity" to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community, said event spokesman Keith Hayes.
Raleigh resident Josh Runyon, 23, and his boyfriend snagged a spot on the rock wall facing West Main Street to watch the parade. Runyon's 21-year-old partner has yet to tell his family he's gay, but he welcomed the opportunity to kiss Runyon and hold his hand in public without being stared at.
"I don't have to worry about homophobic people, gay bashers, stuff like that," Runyon's boyfriend said.
Fourteen-year-old Ashley Felts told her parents earlier this year that she is a lesbian. The Jamestown resident said her dad was supportive and drove her to Saturday's festival so she could carry a flag in the parade.
"It's a right-of-passage coming out somewhere where there's a lot of people like you," Felts said.
Bill McIntyre, 60, and Jim Nuss, 49, sat near the corner of West Main and Broad streets to be near the flower-shaped stage Nuss crafted out of papier-mâché for the parade announcer to stand on. The couple teased each other about checking out attractive younger men before getting serious about the reason they came.
"There are still gay bashings -- there are people who lose their jobs because they're gay, there are people who get railroaded in court because they're gay," Nuss said. "The fight is not over. This is not just a festival, there's a serious meaning under it: we're here and we're just as good as anybody."
Hayes said he hoped the parade's theme: "Equal Rights: No More ... No Less" highlighted that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people still faced significant discrimination.
Tracey Moon and Jessica Lamb think they've found a way to help combat discrimination. The women have created outtriangle.com, a Web site that features gay-friendly activities, businesses and volunteer opportunities.
They spent Saturday networking at the festival to identify new businesses and organizations to add to their site. "We need people to understand our particular situation," Moon said.