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Members of the Duke Nicholas School of the Environment march during the annual Durham Pride parade on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019 on Duke's east campus. The Pride events in Durham started in 1981 after protests by the LGBTQ community in response to a murder and attack of sunbathers at the Little River. The Pride event in Durham has continued to be a way for the city to celebrate and support their LGBTQ+ community.

Stepping off the event parking lot onto Main Street for Durham Pride was like walking into a world filled with rainbows. Rainbow flags, rainbow clothes and even rainbow hair and body paint saturated the Duke University lawn, which was filled with vendors selling rainbow merchandise.  

On Saturday, Sept. 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., tents were posted behind the East Duke Building for vendors, information and promotions. The 33rd annual Durham Pride march was at 11 a.m. It is the oldest Pride march in North Carolina. The GLBT Center at NC State sponsored several vans for students to ride up to the event and had a truck to march with in the parade.

Kip Perry, a graduate student in liberal studies, joined the GLBT Center in marching for NC State. She said Durham Pride was her first time at a Pride event, and it changed her perspective on Pride and the surrounding communities.

"Pride, before I came, meant probably just corporations looking good," Perry said. "Now that I've been here, it's still a little bit of corporations looking good, but also it means young LGBT and people of color selling their products, and they're able to work with local businesses … It also is information; I was able to get a bunch of Plan B’s and condoms and some STI testing and stuff, so it's resources as well. So, my opinion has changed a little bit."

Perry sported a tote bag full of handouts from the event such as flyers, accessories and candy. Ryan Pecaut, a third-year studying industrial engineering, said the Department of Engineering also sponsored vans for its students which garnered about 15 additional attendees. He said he has been to the parade in the past, but was pleased with NC State's turnout this year.  

"I'm an engineering student, so I definitely wanted to join, and I also wanted to get more engineering students involved," Pecaut said. "We brought a whole bunch of engineering students this year." 

The parade lasted for about an hour and a half. Some floats returned as energized as they left, flags waving and music blasting, while others were gutted by the heat, with half their marchers or more leaving early to get food or take a break in the low-stimulation area marked off across the street behind the food trucks. There was also a water station near the info booth to help marchers, vendors and attendees alike beat the heat.

Jazz Gomez-Gadd sold paper flowers for one of the most popular tents at the event. The flowers came in all colors, sizes and arrangements, from long multicolored chains to huge individual blossoms.  

"Paper flowers have been in my family for generations, and I turned it gay," Gomez-Gadd said. "I mean that as an umbrella term, but I now use them to spread love and have a good time … I felt like it was something I really wanted to do, and it's a really big part of our generation, my generation, to be all accepting and loving of others."

Gomez-Gadd said to them, Pride meant "community and acceptance and crazy costumes." All three could be found in abundance at Durham Pride; drag queens marched in the parade beside stilt walkers and people in fur suits or just harnesses and underwear. 

Olivia Ford, a student at Elon University, said the event was her first Pride. 

"I just kind of wanted to celebrate my own identity and be around similar people," Ford said. "Just finding that niche of people that you really connect with, and you feel at home, like you can look around, look at people and not feel out of place."

It was certainly hard to feel out of place at Durham Pride. NC State's GLBT Center and Department of Engineering joined people of all races, ages and sexualities to form a different kind of rainbow which shone throughout the event. The oldest Pride march in North Carolina doesn't show any signs of slowing down, and hopefully NC State students will continue to grow their numbers at the event in the future.