A closer look at Walk With Pride
Shortly after attending the Taipei Pride March on October 31 (2009), photographer Charles Meacham and blogger/writer Sarah Baxter developed Walk with Pride (WWP), as a means of documenting Pride celebrations as they happen around the globe.
“The project was developed after following the debates on gay right issues, and experiencing the energy of the Taipei Pride March,” Meacham says.
Meacham adds, with emphasis: “Gay rights, like all human rights, is a topic that we can both sincerely and enthusiastically support, so we wanted to do something to support the movement, and help people see it in this light.”
As some sort of travelling documentation, “the most basic challenge we face is geographical – how to effectively cover a range of parades during a limited time span, especially as many gay right marches are not only in the same month (June), but also on the same day, so as to commemorate the Stonewall Riots.”
Thus, while the duo’s original plan was to do the project within a year, “we decided to extend it to 14 months, so that we’ll be able to experience major pride events that occur on the same day,” Mecham says.
And then there’s the “challenge of deciding the best way to positively document each parade.”
Meacham admits that “while we’d like to capture images that celebrate the festivity of the marches, we also hope to effectively balance this with written material supporting the main issues and stories behind each event and the communities involved. Striking a successful balance so that viewers understand the deeper issues is important, but not always easy.”
The plan for the WWP is to go from May 2010 to June 2011, with the two organizers attending parades before May, such as the Manila Pride march, and later the Sydney 2010 Mardi Gras event. Some of the key stops on the duo’s international journey include, aside from Sydney and Manila, Tokyo, Moscow, Tel Aviv, New York, Toronto, San Francisco, Mumbai, and the largest pride parade in the world held in São Paulo, Brazil. The two are currently planning to end the project in Washington D.C. in the US.
On why the preference to use the Web, Meacham says that it “has become the quickest and easiest way to connect and interact with people around the globe, which is essential for this project, so using a range of online and Web 2.0 technologies makes perfect sense.”
For Meacham, “the LGBT community is particularly well connected online, and those we’ve contacted have been very supportive, especially those who have added us as Facebook friends. The interconnectivity that these new technologies allow is really extraordinary, and it’s a great way to build global awareness on this topic.”
The project is, of course, not limited to the Web, so “as this project grows and evolves, we’d like to see it develop to include other media sources as well.”
“I think breaking down the barriers many heterosexuals have concerning the LGBT community and gay rights issues is a continual challenge. Getting the heterosexual community to be just as ‘outraged’ concerning inequality and homophobic actions seem necessary for positive change to occur. However, I think many heterosexuals still feel removed from these issues,” Meacham says.
Thus, in the end, Meacham and Baxter are hoping to set up a gallery exhibit of the photos taken during this project, along with a multimedia display of the issues and stories behind the marches, as an attempt to “help to further encourage international pride, while encouraging a greater understanding of the international issues and policies,” Meacham ends.