By Jennifer Faber, Game Specialist
This would be the first time I’d attend the Pride Parade, let alone be a part of it. I was filled with excitement. Pride was something I always wanted to be attend but due to struggles with accepting my own sexuality I never went. I am extremely grateful for the support I and others like myself receive on a daily basis from EA. Electronic Arts has been a huge part in discovering myself, from the games that welcome LGBT characters, to the encouragement I receive from our community. Pride was no different, and I was ecstatic to attend, and have not only my company support myself, but to show support for the LGBT community.
The few hours before the parade I was a nervous wreck with last minute costume designs and trying to arrive early to help set up the float. I parked my car in the first garage I could hunt down and ran as fast as I could to our starting location. I felt this was appropriate as I had dressed up as Faith, a runner from Mirror’s Edge.
On my way I got to see many of the other floats and all who were participating. There was definitely something alive and vibrant about so many people working feverishly to decorate their floats. When I arrived at our location, breathing heavily, I saw others hanging lights and setting up wiring. As we set to getting everything prepared, we were accompanied with lively music from neighboring floats, friendly visitors, and some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.
While I am limited on my experience of getting to see the parade, I can say that actually participating in it is a whole different experience all together. It is also something I recommend strongly to anyone. It was perhaps one of the best breath-taking experiences I have ever had. In Austin, we had 70,000 people attend the parade and the crowd was electric. Being in the Parade you get the opportunity to see everyone having fun and celebrating. The roar and rush you get from the crowd is indescribable.
As our float moved forward we’d reach out to others, high-fiving them as we passed. The response that we received from the mass amount of people was perhaps the most touching. One man in particular made the most impact on me. While reaching out our hands he grabbed on to mine and held them, tears touching the tips of his eyes, and proclaimed, “We love you. Thank you so much. Thank you.” I could instantly tell our participating meant a lot to this man. I began to tear up a little myself and quickly responded, “We love you too!”
Even now I have trouble explaining the wonder that I experienced and the encouragement we saw all around from onlookers to others participating in the Parade. It was great to see how many people participated and to know how important it was that we attend as well. Pride is the most appropriate term to call the event as it stands for ones sense of value or respect. I know after I never felt more pride for being who I am and for the millions of others out there.
My colleague, Kristen Sheets, had this to say about our participation in the parade:
On September 7, EA Austin took part in the Austin Pride Parade. It was months in the making and everyone taking part did so because they understood, not just how much fun it would be, but how important it was - not just to be there as individuals, but to be there as a representative of EA. By stepping forward, we make it known that we see that community as equal. By being in the parade, we get to celebrate diversity with such known characters and branding, it would be impossible to fully estimate the impact we may have had on young onlookers. Children and teenagers (and even adults for that matter) who may be dealing with lack of acceptance somewhere in their lives now know that there are environments where they will be accepted and appreciated for exactly who they are. They know that Darth Malgus, Jim Shepard, The Sims, Plants and Zombies alike all have their back.
Our Austin crew came complete in their favorite game costumes! Our author Jennifer Faber is front and center.
Setting up the Austin Pride float.
The crowd excited to greet EA along the route.
Having fun along the way.