On Sunday morning, ahead of Seattle Pride 2015, marchers gathered in a parking lot under the freeway. They blew balloons, lathered on sunscreen and told what Pride means to them.
What is it like to be gay in Seattle at your age?
Gabby, 19: Honestly it just feels like it's a perfectly normal part of the community. I don't feel like I'm an outlier in any way. I've been accepted. Every school I’ve ever been to has extolled gay positive attitudes. I've never experienced even a modicum of homophobia. My parents didn’t even care.
Eva, 16: I have a lot of gay friends at my school, and most people are out. The people who aren’t don’t need to come out – they don’t care. Their parents don't care. It's not even, like, a big deal.
It's just like, ‘Oh, who do you like?’ And you’re just like, ‘Oh, I like so-and-so.’
I was just talking with teenagers who told me they don’t even need to come out.
Steven: That's the world that I'm hoping we will see. A new chapter in our history was written. It'll be to the point one day where the next generation will just look back and think this was all so archaic.
How did you come out?
It was a difficult process. And I think that it never really ends. You start with one person. And it's the one person who loves you the most.
Who was that for you?
That was my wife.
Ed Malick: I came out when I was 69.
(My wife) doesn't have a prejudiced bone in her body. It doesn't bother her that I'm gay at all.
I still spend a lot of time with her. You don't turn your back on a 28-year-long relationship. I mean you just can't do that. We'll be in each other's lives in a serious way for the rest of our lives.
I believe that our culture has a lot to teach the world about love and acceptance. And as you can see by looking at my brothers and sisters here, we haven't come from somewhere that tries to ostracize fa’afafine.
What is fa’afafine?
It means in the likeness of the woman. In layman’s terms, male to female – trans people. Except they’re embraced and celebrated. We still do experience gray areas on a larger scale but it’s pretty much very accepted and very supported.
When you're in pup space, you don't care about anything going on in your life. You think about the basics in your life – playing, relaxing, eating. It's a very relaxing state. It's very meditative.
Do all puppies have a handler?
Some do, some don't.
What about you?
I have a handler. He's marching with Nordstrom today.
What does it mean that he's your handler?
He takes care of me when I'm in pup space, makes sure I don't do anything crazy. … He has a partner, he's married, and I am their boy.
I came out at my job about six years ago. I was in a relationship with a guy at the time and I figured, ‘You know, people are going to find out eventually.' So I thought I might as well tell them.
How did people react?
Very accepting really. But you know, I did lose some of my family. They do not accept me at all anymore.
It's been very hard on my kids. But they have accepted. …
It was a great weight lifted off my shoulders really to be able to be who I really am.
Vanessa: We got married in California in 2008, during that little chunk of time people could get married. When the city commissioner, or whoever it was, said, ‘By the power invested in me by the State of California,’ that meant a lot.
Erin: It was acknowledging our existence. …
I didn't even know being gay was an option in high school. I had no idea who I was until I was in my mid-20s. My boys go to St. Therese Catholic Academy in Seattle, and they're just like, ‘We have two moms,’ and the kids are like, ‘Oh, you've got two moms? I've got a mom and dad, or I've just got a mom.’ It's very matter of fact.
These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.