ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Diversity and unity were all rolled into one big celebration on the Anchorage Park Strip Saturday afternoon. Alaska PrideFest is the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community’s annual expression of freedom.
From dancers dressed in drag to people milling in the crowd wearing wild and colorful garb, some come for the spectacle, others to make a statement that it’s OK to be different.
Phyllis Rhodes, who is 75, says she wholeheartedly approves of the flamboyant spirit of the gathering, which draws more than a thousand people. It’s an openness she didn’t experience as a young person.
“Oh heavens, no,” says Rhodes. “I didn’t even know what the word ‘homosexual’ was.”
But she knew she was different because she had “girl crushes,” which she had to keep secret.
Fast forward to today.
Gay couples were posing with a cut-out poster of President Barak Obama, who recently came out in support of gay marriage, an important milestone to Verner Wilson, who is 26 and says he’s experienced discrimination.