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The Atlanta Pride Parade kicked off at 12 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14. The parade began at the Civic Center MARTA Station before moving onto Peachtree Street to march north until 10th Street and Piedmont Park. While many local or political entities sponsored the event, the corporations comprised an overwhelming amount of floats. 

On Sunday, Oct. 14, queer people and allies swarmed the sidewalks of Peachtree St. in Atlanta, GA for the annual Pride Parade. Down the middle of Georgia’s largest metropolitan city marched hundreds of organizations, politicians and corporations showing their support for the LGBTQ community. Atlanta’s pride sponsored well over 50 corporations and businesses in 2018, many of whom walked in the annual Pride March. As queer identities and representation gain further acceptance into mainstream culture, businesses commodify the LGBTQ population at an alarming rate.

“With approximately 300,000 patrons in attendance each year, Atlanta Pride provides numerous marketing and branding opportunities for businesses,” the Atlanta Pride festival website reads. “Sponsoring Atlanta Pride is a great way to market [and] gain visibility in the LGBTQ community.

Businesses should support pride for the inherent equality of LGBTQ individuals rather than as “numerous marketing and branding opportunities for businesses” or as “a great way to market and gain visibility in the LGBTQ community.” Referring to Pride participants as a market and branding opportunity reduces a movement that started from oppression to an economic conquest. By integrating such a high number of corporate sponsors into Atlanta Pride’s march, the event disrespects and diminishes the queer community by turning people into dollars signs.

It’s true that Atlanta Pride needs sponsors to continue hosting a free parade and festival yearly; planning and organization would be nigh impossible without financial support. However, local solutions, rather than large business ones, can be found.

Saturday, Oct. 13 and Sunday, Oct. 14, vendors and booths sold their goods to attendees. The radio station POWER 96.1 hosted a concert on Saturday for seven hours, during which LGBTQ people purchased items, food and drinks from booths bordering the walkways. Numerous local opportunities for profit peppered Pride; therefore, corporations should leave the march to the people.

Few events give LGBTQ folks the opportunity to build and celebrate their marginalized community. Corporations invading the little time and space queer people earned by marching in the Pride Parade not only disrespects the queer community, but insults the historical nature of Pride. Pride started as a riot by trans women of color, by marginalized queer people. Queer people continue to fight for their rights, like transgender bathroom laws and better HIV/AID healthcare, and continue to fight for their space to celebrate their identities. To celebrate properly, leave the partying to the people; large businesses needs to take a backseat to humanity.

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(3) comments

UGAisHell

Atlanta is a huge city and "the people" could not govern the amount of workers, owners, tourists, and homeless people that are in Atlanta every single day. Plain and simple. The corporate sponsors help Pride continue to be a wonderful thing in Atlanta each year and I, for one, and ecstatic that they are here to help. So what if they make money? That's what they do. That's what businesses are here for: to make money. The fact that they are using their money to give back to the community says a lot and I love it!

alexbarrella

Too true. The very government of this city is all mixed up in the corporate money making side of things to the harm of it's citizens and their rights. We need to make Atlanta less corporate and more personal overall; as we have good people here but bad representation in our systems.

Thunderboltoftruth

So do you want acceptance or not? Methinks that if the opposite had happened, and no major sponsors had come forward this column would instead be complaining about how LGBTQ are being marginalized because no one will sponsor their gatherings. Having corporate sponsors is a fact of life. LGBTQ groups have raised their social visibility greatly in the past 10 years or so, and as a result it's stylish for corporations to sponsor events like this. It is the price being paid for calling attention to themselves as a group.

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