US city that tried to ban Pride events held its first Pride parade
An American city that reversed a ban on holding Pride parades after being threatened with legal action held its first Pride over the weekend.
Starkville, Mississippi held its first ever LGBT pride parade on March 24 after multiple months of planning and a threat of a lawsuit that became international news.
Over 2,500 people marched in Saturday’s parade, a significant achievement given that Starkville has a population of 25,000.
Organiser and student Bailey McDaniel welcomed the size of the parade, saying that it was a good indicator of the future success of Starkville Pride.
“I think it sets a good vibe for what this annual event will be,” she said to Starkville Daily News.
“I feel like Starkville is so much better for this, and I am honoured that I was able to help progress the city as far as it has.”
Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill greeted the success of the Pride, which saw some attendees travel from hours away to attend.
“I never expected to have this many people,” Mayor Spruill told the Starkville Daily News.
“This would never have happened if we didn’t have the controversy, so I’m almost grateful for the controversy, in the sense that it became something more than it ever would have been. And it became something we can be very proud of.”
Earlier this year, Starkville made international headlines after an application from a local LGBT group to hold a Pride event in the city was denied.
Local politicians in Starkville, Mississippi – which has a population of 25,000 – had voted to deny an application from Starkville Pride to hold an event in the city.
Just two locals had objected to plans for the parade back in February but the conservative-controlled Board of Aldermen swiftly passed a motion to block the plans.
As well as being fiercely condemned by civil rights groups, Grassroots group Starkville Pride began an effort to pursue legal action.
McDaniel said at the time: “We wanted to have a day of celebration and inclusiveness.
“Without explanation or warning, a whole community of people have been denied their constitutional rights.”
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The decision to ban the Pride event was overturned after this mass criticism, with Mayor Spruill casting the deciding vote in favour of the parade.
Sandra Sistrunk, one of the aldermen on the board, asked for the permit to be reconsidered after the town was thrust into an international spotlight.
She described the backlash as “a bit of a growing pain for the city” and insisted that they were now “in a position where we can make a more measured and reasoned vote”.
Mississippi is one of seven states that continues to prohibit teachers in publicly-funded schools from discussing LGBT issues in the classroom.
So-called ‘no promo homo’ laws are on the statute books in Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas.