By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jun 05, 2022 at 10:15 AM Photography: Royal Brevvaxling

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I started taking my sons to the Milwaukee Pride Parade when they were babies. By the time they were 5, it was one of their favorite events of the year. Mainly, because it allowed them to collect copious amounts of candy tossed with kisses from folks on floats rolling down 2nd Street.

But they adored the parade for reasons beyond sugar buzzes, like the music, the wigs, the bubbles, the glitter, the rainbows, the vivaciousness and, most of all, the warmth of the crowd and the parade participants.

(PHOTO: Milwaukee Pride)

However, the most poignant part of the Pride Parade usually happened for us after the festivity, when my sons were sorting their candy – giving what they called "balloons and hand sanitizer" (ahem) to me and keeping all of the Jolly Ranchers, Tootsie Rolls and lollipops for themselves. This is when conversations around the concept of "love is love" and "love makes a family" happened organically.

(PHOTO: Milwaukee Pride)

The messages of Pride are the tenets of our family, which is built from adoption, biology, divorce, forgiveness, loss, trust and, most of all, love. We are who we are. We might not look like other families – we don't have the same skin color nor the same last names –  but it doesn't matter. Happiness matters. Love matters. Going to the parade matters – for so many different reasons.

As my sons got older, they participated in the parade, riding in the OnMilwaukee Love Bus, handing out stickers and pickles with their friends, and blowing bubbles out the bus windows.

But all of that said, PrideFest and the Pride Parade will always – first and foremost – serve as a celebration of Gay Pride.

(PHOTO: Milwaukee Pride)

"To me, gay pride happens the moment people step out of the shadows and take their rightful place as members of society and the world at large. Cue the glitter cannon!" says Bjorn Nassett, who performed earlier this weekend as BJ Daniels.

Originally, the Pride Parade was funded by PrideFest, but in 2004 it became an independent entity supported by the now-defunct Outbound Magazine and business owners.

"Pride Fest and the Pride Parade bring so much love, joy and happiness to Milwaukee. The stories I have learned from people I have met throughout the years that I have been a part of Milwaukee Pride are astounding," says Bucks DJ and LGBTQ community member Shawna Nichols. "People from all over come to Pride; whether they have been out for decades, are struggling with coming to terms with their sexuality, are fearful, or allies, the amount of love and acceptance Milwaukee Pride offers for a long weekend will leave your heart feeling full."

(PHOTO: Milwaukee Pride)

So whoever your family is, whatever they look like or stand for – as long as it’s rooted in love – grab them, celebrate them and show them off at the Milwaukee Pride Parade. 

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.