Online backlash erupted during the holiday weekend after a float appeared in the Stampede Parade depicting an outhouse. Many suggested the float insulted LGBT people, while others argued it was just an attempt at humor.
The float featured a wildlife scene and an outhouse with a sign that read “Transgender Restroom.” An arrow on the sign pointed at the outhouse.
Comments posted in social media included, “not funny or cool at all,” from a transgender woman and “it was a bad attempt at making a humorous suggestion about a topic.
”There were far more critical comments of the float than supportive, and some of the more heated responses denounced state and local attitudes that may foster incidents like this.
The creator of the float, Renae Gordon, issued a statement to the Enterprise including her original narrative for the parade float proposal, which was approved. Gordon’s narrative focused on Cody pride and the adventure of the West and lastly hinted that only in Wyoming could the transgender issue be solved: “One last claim to fame in Cody. We are home to the original transgender bathroom. No signs necessary on that door, but be careful when you open it; you may see a full moon.”
Gordon also said she has participated in the parade many times and has always made floats with an element of humor.
“The float was never intended for offense to anyone. It was not intended for any political agenda,” Gordon said. “It was quite simply intended to bring a laugh. In my mind, an outhouse is truly the original transgender bathroom and that was the joke.”
Lee Ann Reiter, president of the Parade Committee, said the parade is not about politics in any way and is about bringing the community together and celebrating our nation’s freedom.
Reiter said due to the fact that there was a float that hurt some people’s feelings, the parade committee is working with Wyoming Equality, a state organization that focuses on LGBT issues, to make sure this will not happen again.
“I am looking forward to a meeting to continue to make Wyoming the Equality State that it already is,” Reiter said. “I am very proud of that. Our goal is to serve the entire community and that is our intention.”
Some also posted online their concern that the float seemed to have won an award. But it turns out that the award on the float was actually for the horse riding in front of it. The award was earned for horsemanship. The transgender float did not receive any awards.
The parade as a whole was enjoyable and had phenomenal entries, Reiter said. She was very proud of the outcome of the parade and the amount of work from the community in making it a success.
Sara Burlingame, the Education and Outreach Coordinator for Wyoming Equality, said after the parade she received multiple phone calls about the float, with a mixture of positive and negative reactions.
Burlingame said she spoke with Reiter and was told that the intention of the float’s owner was really inclusion and humor and was not for political or harmful purposes.
The parade guidelines state that the parade cannot be used as a platform for “social, religious, political, or commercial” purposes.
Burlingame said that new laws in other states that regulate bathroom use have created fear in the LGBT community in Wyoming. She said however, in light of this event, Wyoming Equality is using this as an opportunity for dialogue and education on this issue.
“It was unfortunate the float did create some fear and confusion,” Burlingame said. “[It] also created an opportunity for us to come together.”Share: