Anchorage Pride 2003: Look how far we’ve come

1983 Anchorage Pride march

Anchorage Pride marchers on 6th Ave., 1983: 19 marchers

[Originally posted at Friday 27-Jun-2003 4:35 PM]

Anchorage Pride 2003: Look how far we’ve come
Or, when it comes to Phelpists, silence doesn’t equal death

Word from our local Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) is that some great organizing work has been done around the Phelpists coming to town. Not to fundraise, not to confront — but to ignore. Since, as numerous other cities’ experiences with the Phelpists have shown, the main thing they want is publicity. “So,” our local folks say, “lets not give ’em any.”

Good idea. And y’know, if this blog was read by more than the very few people who’ve read it thus far, I wouldn’t even write about them here.

Even if the Phelpists don’t show up in news accounts, their decision to come here will probably end up being good for the community, just because of the good organizing that’s been done around it. Just as other homophobic action proved good in the end a couple years ago, when our creepy outgoing mayor kicked a diversity exhibit sponsored by MCC & the local chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) out of the Z.J. Loussac Library, our main municipal public library. The exhibit went up on a Monday evening, & was taken down before the library even opened the next morning at 10:00 AM — not even because of any complaints, but simply because Mayor George Wuerch objected to it.

Big controversy ensued. And the Pride parade that year was the biggest ever in this town: two to three thousand according to the June 24, 2001 Anchorage Daily News story about it. I was there — it was great. Lesbians, gays, transgendered, & lots & lots of allies, including about 30 library employees with a banner that read “Librarians for Free Speech.”

And I remembered when the Pride parade in Anchorage was just 19 of us trying to take up the whole street.

That was in twenty years ago, in 1983. I later sent a photo of that lesbian/gay pride march to Gay Community News (Boston) along with a letter on June 28, 1983, which GCN published.

I couldn’t find the copy as published, but I have a handwritten draft of it. Relevant excerpts:

Dear GCN:

Enclosed is a photograph of this year’s Lesbian/Gay Pride March in Anchorage, Alaska. There were nineteen of us in this city of about 200,000, so a rough estimate is that for every one of us on the street, there were 1,000 at home in Anchorage (1,000 more in the rest of the state). Despite the small numbers in our march, I am told that this is the march’s 5th consecutive year. I am told that the maximum participation was two years ago, with about 50 people….

[S]omehow a very disparate group of people came to be walking down 6th Avenue behind the Alaska banner that is a veteran of the National March on Washington…..

The last march (and my first march) was in Boston in 1991 when there were 12,000 marchers. This was more frightening — it is like one of the marchers in our parade said in comparing marching in San Francisco with marching here. He said in San Francisco the march is very much a celebration, but coming here reminded him that there are still many places where the issue for us is not yet celebration — but simple survival….

We’re not home free yet… but what a long way we’ve come in the last 20 years. And while I won’t, due to a scheduling conflict, be here for tomorrow’s parade, I’ll be there in spirit.

Two four six eight
Gay is just as good as straight
Three five seven nine
Lesbians are mighty fine



  • 6/20/2003. Fred Phelps coming to Anchorage. The “” followers of Westboro Baptist Church pastor Fred Phelps announce plans to picket in Anchorage during PrideFest 2003.
  • 6/27/2003. Anchorage Pride 2003: Look how far we’ve come. A brief history history of the annual Pride parade in Anchorage from 1983, in which there were 19 marchers, to 2001, in which there were two to three thousand. Can the followers of Fred Phelps wreck that? Don’t think so.
  • 7/8/2003. Those Phelpists aren’t too clever, are they? Why did Westboro Baptist Church, famous for their website “,” picket Anchorage Baptist Temple — famous in Anchorage as the very center of antigay attitudes in Alaska?
  • 7/8/2003. Publicity, publicity, publicity.  Which Anchorage churches during PrideFest 2003 did the Phelpists picket, & which not, & why?
  • 6/12/2009. Billboards. While in 2003 Jerry Prevo decried Westboro Baptist Church tactics, in 2009 he & his allies didn’t hesitate to use children — even some younger then 10 —  in a very like way, as billboards for their parents’ prejudices.
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