I saw a lot of people blogging and posting about how they spent their holiday weekend, so I decided to share my story. My wife and I went to a Gay Pride celebration. In addition to a few sweet little plot bunnies, I had had some other thoughts. At the parade, there were 185 floats plus more walking contingents than I could count. After watching for two and a half hours in the 90+ heat, we decided we'd rather be ashamed and cool in the hotel room than hot and proud on the street. We saw the rest on a cable news channel, with two hosts doing a their inane patter with so much enthusiasm that I felt like I was watching the Rose Bowl. A strange sensation stirred. This was pride.
It didn't stop there. Everywhere I looked there were signs of Pride celebration. The hotel lobby had rainbow flags and even a table display in the six colors to celebrate. Sears arranged its mannequins in same sex couples and made sure there were plenty of rainbow displays. A cookware store had its pots in a rainbow. That feeling welled up again. So what if they were after my money. They were standing with us.
I usually feel like an invisible lesbian. When I'm out with my wife, strangers talking to me refer to her as my sister or my friend. I correct them. I didn't have to. At breakfast our fun chatty waitress leaned in and said, "Happy Pride. Have a great time."
At the street festival, dozens of police kept the peace while draped with rainbow beads, laughing and chatting with people, posing for pictures with those in elaborate costumes. There were hundreds of booths hawking everything from dildoes and leather restraints to Jones soda, hot tubs, time shares and an opportunity for a law enforcement career or the opportunity to serve in the armed forces. Surprising, I know. Because I wasn't in the land of "liberty and justice for all" on the fourth of July, I was in Canada.
I grew up a fierce little patriot. I loved American history. In celebration of the bicentennial (yes, I'm that old), I had my bedroom done in red, white and blue, complete with a tricolored shag rug (I'll wait while you shudder in horror) and a stars and stripes sheet set. The site of the battle of Yorktown awed me as a fourteen year old. Yet on the day when we celebrate the signing of a document that begins "When in the course of human events" I had to find my pride, my sense of belonging, in another country.
Sure I could go to a Pride celebration closer to home. Like the one in Albany, NY where a guy was hospitalized afterward when three guys beat the crap out of him. The police are classifying it simple robbery. Who can forget last year's fun opening of the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth, TX where the thirtieth anniversary of Stonewall was celebrated by law enforcement coming into the bar to break some skulls?
As I celebrated the birth of modern gay revolution in another country, I thought about the younger me who believed so fiercely in the power of our history to give us forward momentum to an amazing future. She would have sworn that these words would have been spoken by an American in a debate on gay marriage, "We would risk becoming a country in which the defence of rights is weighed, calculated and debated based on electoral or other considerations." But she'd have been wrong. That was Prime Minister Bill Martin of Canada. I'm afraid he was talking about the "land of the free" to the south of him. I have to thank the governor of Hawaii for proving my point in demonstrating how unworthy of equality gay people like me are.
This summer, I plan to paint my office the same shade of deep blue I once had in my bedroom. (Don't worry. I'm skipping the shag rug. And the sheets.) I wish it was as easy to regain my sense of pride.