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Commentary: Everyone is free to be themselves at Columbus Pride Festival

Sarah Pfledderer / Arts editor

People from all walks of life filled Goodale Park this weekend for the 2012 Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival, and no matter if they were gay, straight, transgender or bisexual, everyone was treated equally and encouraged to be themselves.

While the park was packed with booths, vendors and food carts, the real attraction was in the people who were free to be whoever they pleased without threat of judgment or prejudice.

Among the crowd were drag queens clad in glittered dresses, students and families dressed in shorts and T-shirts and some attendees who wore not much at all. While some showed skin in swimsuits and skimpy dresses, many were covered by only underwear or nothing at all.

In protest for true equality, and in honor of being comfortable with their own bodies, many women went topless in the park. Some women painted up to attract attention to their exposed breasts as many shirtless men shed their threads with no stares or gasps.

A true air of camaraderie was present throughout the park, as members of the LGBT community and their straight allies were able to enjoy a prejudice-free weekend. I never witnessed a negative remark or rude gesture during the festival, just a load of smiles covering the faces of nearly all in attendance.

While the kindness and acceptance between adults was more than abundant, the true heart-warming scenes were in the children who accompanied their parents to the festival. Youth could be seen atop their parents’ shoulders, dancing along to live music performances and wearing pro-equality messages, such as a young girl who wore a shirt saying, “I want my moms to get married.”

In addition to fun, many booths and protestors were enlightening as well. Hundreds of causes were represented throughout the festival, from LGBT groups to animal rights. While the aim of the Pride Festival may have been to offer visitors an exciting summer day, it proved to be more of a day of acceptance and a right step toward peace and equality. 

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