Gay community finds support from 'straight as an arrow' neighbors in Northland
The Pride Parade down Superior's Tower Avenue brought tears to the eyes of Jason Morrow on Sunday afternoon. With his partner, Ron Lanners, at his side, the Hayward man said: "We still have a long ways to go, but we're getting closer to equality....
The Pride Parade down Superior's Tower Avenue brought tears to the eyes of Jason Morrow on Sunday afternoon.
With his partner, Ron Lanners, at his side, the Hayward man said: "We still have a long ways to go, but we're getting closer to equality."
Lanners said he found the celebration an emotional affirmation of his relationship with Morrow.
"Instead of being treated like there's something wrong with us, we're starting to feel more accepted," Lanners said.
The two men are united in a domestic partnership but still dream of a day when they will be allowed to formally marry in Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, the parade served as a rallying cry against a proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment that would define marriage exclusively as between a man and a woman.
"To see all these people with 'Vote No!' signs gives me a lot of hope," said Jacey Carlson of Duluth, who attended the parade with her friend, Nicole Barclay of Superior.
"It's awesome to have our community come together like this," Barclay said. "It shows that a sense of acceptance is becoming more widespread."
Although the event was designed to recognize people in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender relationships, it drew support from other quarters, as well.
"I'm as straight as an arrow, but I'm here to support my friends," said Marilyn Magnuson, 60, of Superior.
Sporting a multi-colored hat, complete with tassels, she said: "I don't embrace or endorse a gay lifestyle, but the way I see it, how people choose to live is between themselves and God."
Perched on a lawn chair beside his wife, Laurie, Paul Tousignant of Superior said he considers the Pride Parade a tradition.
"I'm not gay myself, but we enjoy the fact that people have a right to be whatever they are," he said.
"This is the second year we've come, and I think it's great," said Sean Sengenberger of Superior, as he took in the parade with his 10-year-old daughter, Maggie.
Sengenberger said his daughter is a fan of parades of all stripes, but he said: "I think it's important to come out and show our support. In so many ways, our gay community has been stepped on for years."
The annual parade reflects positively on Superior in Sengenberger's eyes.
"People often treat Superior like some kind of backwater town, but the truth is it's a much more progressive community than many people think," he said.
Wearing a yellow sundress and introducing himself as Julie, Bob Duerr of Chetek, Wis., watched approvingly as the parade rolled by.
"This is one of the better pride events I've been to," said Duerr, who has attended the Duluth-Superior Pride event for years.
Duerr said he has taken part in gay pride celebrations in other larger cities, including Minneapolis and Chicago, but Superior's parade and festivities have always compared favorably.
"I've never had a bad time here," he said.
For Zach Dubell, who grew up in Duluth but now calls Minneapolis home, the weekend Duluth-Superior Pride celebration was a chance to reunite with friends and family.
"Coming from Minneapolis, this really feels more family-oriented. The Minneapolis Pride parade was a lot racier. This feels more like we're building a sense of community, instead of just having some big party," he said.