March Toward Pride

By Megan Wadding, April 2018 Issue.

Each year, the pride parades throughout the country serves as a space to bring diverse LGBTQ and allied communities together in celebration of our past, present and future.

The 2018 Phoenix Pride Parade presented by Bank of America is no exception. And, under the same theme “United We Stand, Equality for All,” LGBTQ and allied businesses, groups and organizations politicians and luminaries will hit the streets April 8.

“The 2018 Phoenix Pride Parade will see great things this year,” said Victor Avila, Phoenix Pride program manager. “I’m definitely encouraging the organizations that are registering [to participate] to be as prideful as possible to let their message be heard.”

The vibrant and colorful procession will step off at the intersection of Third Street and Thomas Road at 10 a.m. and run down third Street into Steele Indian School Park, with announcer stages at both Osborn Road and Clarendon Avenue.

“Last year, we saw over 15,000 spectators come enjoy the parade with their families and friends,” Avila said. “We’re expecting our parade to grow as it has been every year, with more floats and walkers, and many first-time marchers in the parade.”

Bill Kennedy was selected as the 2018 Phoenix Pride Parade grand marshal. Kennedy, an NBA referee who famously came out back in 2015 after NBA player Rajon Rondo – a Sacramento Kings point guard at the time – went on a homophobic rant against him.

“Bill Kennedy is a friend of mine who I watched endure some disheartening events in his career,” said Mike Fornelli, Phoenix Pride’s interim executive director.

According to Fornelli, Kennedy was chosen to highlight Phoenix Pride’s commitment to spotlighting the new athletic scholarship that they will to give out this year through a partnership with the Phoenix Gay Flag Football League (PGFFL).

For the first time, Phoenix Pride will be giving a $1,000 scholarship to a self-identified LGBTQ high school senior in a varsity or junior varsity sport that has plans to attend a college in Arizona.

In line with the new scholarship, Kennedy attended St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix and went on to graduate from Arizona State University.

“He is very much a product of our Valley of the sun, and it made sense to choose him as a grand marshal,” Fornelli said.

Billy Kennedy, 2018 Phoenix Pride Parade grand marshal. Courtesy photo.

Meet Grand Marshal Billy Kennedy

Billy Kennedy is an American professional basketball referee for the NBA

Billy Kennedy is an American professional basketball referee for the NBA. He began as an NBA referee during the 1995-96 NBA season. He has refereed five NBA Finals games, as well as the 2010 FIBA World Championships and the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Kennedy ejected Boston Celtics’ coach Doc Rivers from a game on March 17, 2009. As a result, Rivers was fined $25,000 for remarks he made about Kennedy after the game, and Kennedy was fined an undisclosed amount for his handling of the situation. Rivers reportedly used a gay slur toward Kennedy during the 2009 NBA Playoffs.

In 2015, Kennedy ejected Rajon Rondo from a game, and Rondo used a gay slur toward Kennedy, which resulted in a one-game suspension for Rondo. Kennedy later revealed that he is gay.

– Courtesy of Phoenix Pride.

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