Pride festivities in Palm Springs each November bring opportunities to reunite with old friends, party with new ones, reflect on advancements in equality, and see the Palm Springs High School Band do its thing in the annual parade.
The school band puts its best foot forward every year with a performance that elicits rousing applause and cheers from spectators. But marching in support of LGBT residents didn’t come easy to band director Brian Ingelson and his students. As Sam Wilkerson’s 23-minute film, “The Pride of Palm Springs,” recounts, only 50 percent of band members had parental support to participate the first year. Ingelson and the high school principal also received strong opposition from community members who were vehemently against the idea.
Katy Wilkerson, a dedicated band booster and mother of the film’s director, reveals below how forging ahead with participation in the Pride parade in 2006 helped change hearts and minds in Palm Springs. Ninety percent to 95 percent of band members now march each year.
The film will be screened at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, during the “LGBT – Like Me” program presented by Desert Outlook at the Palm Springs International ShortFest.
What’s the appeal of participating in the Pride parade for the young musicians?
The students love participating in this parade and it has become a favorite for band kids and their parents. The joy and appreciation from the parade spectators is overwhelming and the kids, being the performers they are, love the energy and excitement.
Why did you want to make a short film about this topic?
As a parent walking behind the band, I had people come up to me and thank me, and tell me how wonderful it was to see a high school band in a Pride parade. Grown men and women had tears in their eyes and told me that they never thought they would see it in their lifetime. It was extremely emotional.
I began wondering if there were any other high school bands marching in other Pride parades, so I did some research and couldn’t find any. That was when I told Sam [Wilkerson] that this was a story that needed to be told, especially with all the political garbage that was going on. Everywhere I looked there was some politician blasting the LGBT community, but what really ticked me off was when Carl Paladino called Andrew Cuomo a bad parent for taking his kids to the Pride parade in New York City. I wondered what Mr. Paladino would think about me and the other parents for letting our kids march in a Pride parade.
I want moviegoers to feel the emotions I felt while walking down that parade route, the pride in our community, the acceptance of everyone, the joy and the tears. I also want people to ask themselves, “Why are we not doing this in our community?”
When you have kids you want other people to see them as you do. Seeing the tens of thousands of parade spectators cheer our kids on gave me one of those aha moments. Every one of those spectators is someone’s son or daughter, and having our kids perform for them brings our community full circle. I still get tears when I think about it.
IF YOU GO
What: Palm Springs International ShortFest’s “LGBT – Like Me” program featuring “The Pride of Palm Springs” and other short films
When: 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 19
Where: Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs