Photo by Chuck Liddy, the Raleigh News and Observer.
DURHAM - The ground on Duke University's East Campus was muddy and slippery, and a steady rain fell on Saturday's
28th N.C. Pride Festival. However, when Durham police officers sounded their sirens and revved their motorcycles, a cheer
went up from those gathered at the corner of West Main and Campus Drive. With the police escort and an eight-foot-tall
Marilyn Monroe look-alike on stilts at the front of the line, the 28th annual N.C. Pride Parade got under way.
The vote approving Amendment One and election-year politics were on the minds of the parade spectators and
participants. "We lost the battle but our fight is not over," read a sign on one of the parade floats. Another asked, "Liberty and
justice for ???"
Even with Amendment One, a carnival atmosphere pervaded the parade, despite the rain. Randy Jones, the cowboy from
The Village People, waved to the crowd as the parade made its way north on Broad Street, west on Green Street, south
on Ninth, then back to Main Street. The Beaver Lodge No. 1504 of Durham had their own Marilyn look-alike, 2012 Beaver
Queen contestant Marilyn Damho, and they danced their way along the route with the help of the Bulltown Strutters, who
gave the event a Mardi Gras feel. Along the route, spectators waved, took photos and cheered. As the parade made its way
along Ninth Street, Shannon Kelly gave Marilyn Damho a kiss.
A man who simply called himself Slim danced and gave encouragement to the parade participants. "Hey! Make some damn
noise!" he told a group passing by.
Numerous churches that support equal rights for the LGBT community were also represented. Ginger Bradsher-Cunningham
and Carla Gregg, both of Pilgrim United Church of Christ, led prayer and communion at the gazebo on the campus lawn
before the parade.
Adam Darragh, a student at Duke Divinity School, was at the prayer session. The election was certainly on his mind, but "I
would be out here regardless," Darragh said. "Equal rights has to be something we're always pushing for, or it won't work."
Precious-Jewel Zabriskie said parade participants and spectators were drawn more by the atmosphere of the event, and the
idea of being visible and proud, rather than politics. Zabriskie said she plans to get married to her partner in October. They
will get legally married in New York, but will have a celebration ceremony in North Carolina. Zabriskie, a Time Warner Cable
employee, was riding a float with other employees. Time Warner has an LGBT employee group.
At the end of the parade, former Village People singer Jones, in cowboy garb, took pictures with fans and handed out
business cards. He was scheduled to perform "YMCA" later in the afternoon. Jones, who is from North Carolina, said he
was disappointed in the Amendment One vote, but expressed love for his home state and country. "I love the people of
North Carolina. I have ultimate faith in the people of the United States of America," Jones said. "I think ultimately the heart of
everyone in the United States ... wants every human being to have a fair opportunity and a fair chance."