March for Equality scheduled for June 22
A pink flyer is circulating in Wausau promoting the “first-ever” gay Pride parade in the Wisconsin city.
The parade has generated harsh criticism from the Christian right and an elected official, but also enough questions from the local LGBT community about the event and the identity of the organizer that a second march has been scheduled.
At a recent meeting, Wausau Ald. David Nutting encouraged people to turn their backs on the parade, according to the progressive blog bluecheddar.net.
Nutting, during the public comment portion of a city meeting on June 12, said, “I represent an overwhelming majority of District 3 residents who oppose allowing a parade of deviant-behaving individuals to be escorted by public law enforcement members through the very heart of our family-oriented city to a beautiful family-oriented public park where no doubt their choice of indecent behavior will be on full display for influential children and the media to proclaim it worldwide.”
He continued, “This isn’t speech. This is behavior. I ask that all residents stay away from the parade or if you do go, stand with your back to the parade of deviant-behaving individuals.”
Also in the critics’ corner is the Wisconsin Family Action, the ultra-right organization that is challenging the state’s domestic partnership law in court. WFA has urged its members to contact the mayor and city council members to object to the scheduled downtown parade.
“Our experience with homosexual parades is that they’re nothing more than a display of immorality and propaganda,” stated WFA president Julaine Appling. The statement did not detail her “experience.”
She added, “This Wausau group is specifically targeting teens, which sends exactly the wrong message to our young people. The citizens of Wausau need to let their elected officials know their opinion about this parade.”
The WFA stated, in an action alert, that “a California man (who owns property in Wausau) is putting $15,000 of his own money into a so-called ‘gay pride’ parade.”
To others, it’s unclear who is organizing the Pride parade.
The WFA based its information on a May 9 report in the Wausau Daily Herald that identified Daxx Bouvier as the parade organizer. The story said Bouvier lives in Calabasas, Calif., and spends several weeks in Wausau, where he owns property. The Herald quoted Bouvier as saying, “It’s long overdue. There are a lot more people in the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in Wausau than people realize.”
Bouvier told the Herald he has invited openly lesbian U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., to the parade and the newspaper reported that members of a gay-straight alliance club planned to march.
The city approved a permit for the parade earlier this spring, but more recent attention to the march raised questions about the organizer. City officials have said that Bouvier was not the individual who dropped off the paperwork for the permit and that a fee is still owed and proof of insurance must be provided.
WiG, as of June 14, had been unable to locate Daxx Bouvier.
A blog profile for a “Daxx Bouvier” stated, “Daxx Bouvier resides in Beverly Hills, CA and Granite Peak, WI born in June(year unknown) adopted at the young age of 4, world traveller and philanthropist, best known for his lavish parties and support of animal rights with a net worth estimated at $60 million dollars working on his memoirs and creating his own fragrance as well. No occupation history.”
Bouvier’s parade, in addition to the flyers, is advertised on Craigslist. The notice on the online site referred to Daxx Bouvier Productions as the promoter, announced a festival at the end of the parade and provided the names and contact information for two men.
But those men say they have nothing to do with a parade. One of the men, in a phone interview with WiG, said Bouvier listed him as a contact to “mess with my relationship with my fiancé.” He also said Bouvier’s claims of wealth are outrageous.
Meanwhile, to guarantee a celebration, local activist Shannon Thomas of One Girl Creative is organizing a March for Equality, set for the same time and the same location as Bouvier’s Pride parade.
Thomas said the march will take place at 3 p.m. on June 22 at Marathon Park and proceed to the 400 block park in downtown Wausau. She said there had been concern in the community that Bouvier’s Pride parade might be a hoax but she was really motivated to action after statements from Nutting, who has said that city police shouldn’t provide any protection for LGBT paraders.
Thomas began organizing the march but, because of the date, she cannot secure a city permit. So the walkers will take the sidewalk path from park to park, rather than marching in the street.
By about noon June 14, more than 100 people had committed to attending the March for Equality on a Facebook events page. And the march could help launch a larger event in 2014.
Thomas also is organizing a smaller party, Heart of Wisconsin Pride, in Wausau in August.
On the Web…
The March for Equality.