Representatives of 149 organizations, from 3M to Dykes on Bikes to political campaigns to the North Star Gay Rodeo Association, will don vibrant colors and big smiles Sunday to march down Hennepin Avenue as part of the Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade.
The parade, the highlight of busy Pride weekend in the Twin Cities, typically attracts tens of thousands of people to downtown Minneapolis. Businesses, civic groups, political leaders and candidates and churches sign up early to be part of the merry event, whose attractions range from the raucous to the family-friendly (by the way, the bleachers in front of the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts at 528 Hennepin Av. are designated family-friendly).
The parade, which kicks off at 11 a.m., will begin at N. 3rd Street and proceed 11 blocks to N. 14th Street, near Loring Park, where many other Pride events took place Saturday and will continue on Sunday.
Through the years, the event has often served as the local ground zero for expression of views about broader cultural issues. In 2017, the parade was briefly stopped by protesters after a whirlwind controversy about whether uniformed police officers should participate in the parade — they had been hastily excluded, then hastily reinvited. In 2016, it provided a place to mourn for the victims of a gun massacre in a gay nightclub in Florida. In 2013, it was the focal point of celebration over Minnesota’s legalization of same-sex marriage.
This year, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo has told Minneapolis officers that they are not to march in uniform. “My decision is based in part on the adamant opposition of law enforcement’s participating by some representatives of our local LGBTIQ communities who have stated they feel strongly they do not want any law enforcement officers marching in uniform,” he said last month. “Representatives had conveyed to me that there is still a great deal of pain and harm that has occurred in their community, specifically our LGBTIQ communities of color, which has not been completely heard and addressed.”
Arradondo said officers not in uniform are welcome to march and can wear rainbow shirts with police badge designs on the front.
This year’s parade will feature a first: a group from an African-American church from the Twin Cities. Kingdom Life Church, which is led by Pastor David Keaton and has been worshiping at venues in the north metro area, will be No. 110 in the parade lineup.