Four years ago, same-sex marriage was legalised in all 50 states of America. But if only there was a way to legalise holding hands. Or of making it less awkward when you touched your lover’s arm on a busy street.
As the windy streets of San Francisco turned to sunshine, bang in the middle of all the purple and pink wigs, silver tassels and rainbow bikinis, were young people in love who had travelled long distances to attend a pride march where they could experience the ease of holding hands in a crowd where they wouldn’t be judged.
“Out here, I’m not afraid to touch her hand, which I am in the normal world,” says a young woman called Melody of her girlfriend Jackie. They travelled from Nevada to attend the pride march in San Francisco. Back home, they would sometimes hold hands on the streets and then they’d suddenly stop when people were near.
For Melody, it’s absence of oppression, that drew her to SF, for a march where she felt “happy and accepted.” We’re comfortable here, she says. “A hundred percent comfortable.”
They’ve been dating for a year and a half. This is their second pride march. They say the first year they attended the march was incredible for them. They had only recently begun dating, and the march helped them define their relationship.
Much like Melody and Jackie, Dylan and Brian from a city in Central Valley, California, find it hard to hold hands while walking down the streets of their hometown. They say the pride march is an opportunity to be themselves.
“I feel a lot more myself since I came out. It was like putting on a mask before that,” said a young bisexual woman as she snuggled up to a young bisexual man. She’d rather not mention her name. His is Theal and he’s from Petaluma, North of San Francisco. His parents support him, and even drove him to the march.
Not everyone at the march told their parents they were there. Ironically, some of those who hid their participation in the parade were straight. Like Amy from Ohio, who moved to San Francisco a few years ago. This is the third pride march she’s attending, along with her friend Jackie Wray, another straight woman.
Jackie’s parents fully approve of her support for the LGBT movement. Now in her 20s, she’s been attending the pride march since she was a teenager. When she began attending the march, she felt like an observer, supporting the movement from the outside. And now, here she was in a bright pink wig and fluorescent purple tank top, very much a part of the parade.