On March 2, Baton Rouge held their Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade, and I have to say, I was surprised.
Going into it, I expected it to be a pride parade because that’s what my sister had told me it was. Instead, it felt like a weird in-between of a pride parade and a regular Mardi Gras parade.
According to the Spanish Town website, the first Spanish Town parade was in 1981. Since then, they have had many themes, including “Game of Thongs.” Most themes appear to be a sexual pun, which I found interesting since there is a section on the parade route that is “Family Friendly,” meaning there is no alcohol there. This year, the theme was “Drain the Perversion Canal.”
There were no explicitly LGBT floats. Most floats stuck true to the overall theme of the parade, and a few notable ones were making fun of President Donald Trump and other Republicans in office. Many of them were decorated with inappropriate pictures and sex jokes.
Some floats seemed like they were subtly gay, such as the float with all of the men wearing pink, but there wasn’t a single rainbow on any of the floats. In fact, the only person I saw wearing rainbow aside from my sister and her friend was a single, very drunk lady.
Despite the underwhelming amount of pride, the parade did have one thing in common with most pride parades: protesters. They didn’t seem to do much. From what I could tell, they mostly stood there with their signs and would get angry when they saw a float depicting Trump in a cartoonish way.
I vaguely wondered if they considered the lack of pride a success. Did they think it was because of them? Had they also been misled about the point of the parade? They almost seemed like they were only protesting the Trump floats themselves despite their anti-LGBT signs.
They did seem pleased by the single pro-Trump float, though.
My sister and I were able to walk around the parade while holding hands without any consequence, which was a nice change of pace. Typically when I hold hands with my friends, there’s at least one person who makes their feelings about it known, usually with an over-exaggerated gagging sound. That, combined with the random rainbow lady and the protesters, gave off an eerie vibe of “subtle pride.”
As for the people on the floats, many of them were holding sex toys or throwing thongs out. Men were wearing pink jackets and no shirts and acted very flamboyantly, which added to the “subtle gay” feeling. It was a weird feeling. It was similar to the feeling of being old enough to be in a bar, but not old enough to drink.
Despite the odd vibes I was getting, the parade itself was fun. I spent the whole time taking pictures and giving what few beads I caught to younger children, but I enjoyed spending time with my sister, and I’d probably recommend the parade to any of-age person.
Just be careful if you decide to bring your children.
Actually, maybe just leave them at home.