Last night, we went to Austin's Gay Pride Parade. At one time, I looked at Rob and said "I think we are the only people NOT in the parade."
I have no idea how many spectators there were. I'd say that I could see an easy ten thousand in the block we were in. We had a spot right outside one of the nightclubs that had an announcer on a loudspeaker on the roof, so we heard all the groups announced as they passed by. I fixed up the shirts Rob and I wore for us to wear to Boston pride about 13 years ago. I don't think either of us had worn them since.
We had the honor of chaperoning Sydney and one of her high school friends who is identifying as lesbian to the parade. We are playing role model to a future generation!! It was great fun to watch them enjoy themselves. There were a few things that were a little more adult oriented than I would have liked to expose them to, but it all went just fine.
So, who marches in a gay pride parade? Well, lots of gay people, including dancing half naked boys and drag queens and lesbians on motorcycles, the police and fire and emergency medical services departments, INCLUDING their chiefs and Health and Human Services and most of the city council. And, the Travis County Clerk that cleared us to get married so quick was there, in a convertible like a pageant queen...wearing a wedding veil! At least a dozen churches and temples, and when a church sends representatives to gay pride, they are NOT the young people, these were older adults, coming out to show support for our community and willing to walk a long parade route; and some were already so exhausted, but the energy kept them walking and cheering. All the gay nightclubs were represented. And, major employers, including Dell, AT&T, Google, and VMware, and THREE THOUSAND EMPLOYEES OF APPLE COMPUTERS!!! Even the bank that Billy Graham's money got moved to had a huge motorhome in the lineup. Bands, twirling groups, runners, gyms, and representatives from all the large cities in Texas; San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston. The Veteran's Administration. THE GIRL SCOUTS!!! Groups that care for us like scholarship groups and psychotherapy groups and service organizations. The Austin Independent School Board and three of the local schools, including the band from one of the high schools near our home. There was even a city bus driver that was bouncing her bus down the street like a gangsta. My employer had an entry, and I cheered as my co-workers went by. And, gay couples and straight couples and children and babies and families of every shape, gender, color and combination. There was even a group walking in memory of a friend and relative that couldn't be there. And, love just poured all over the whole thing like fairy dust.
I spent the whole damn parade cheering. And wiping away tears. And, remembering that just a few years ago, pride was just a couple blocks long, and most of the people in it were just gays celebrating a street party. And, showing the world that we are here. And, we aren't going to hide anymore. It took courage to go back then and stand outside where anybody could walk past and see you...and know.
It's been a lot of years since Rob and I did anything like this. When Sydney asked why, I said that we gave up partying for parenting. But, it really wasn't that. We gave up the party lifestyle when we got together. We needed to put together the life we wanted. A life that is no less gay, but a different kind of gay lifestyle. One that is centered on family. And, now that we have it, we are getting more involved in the public lifestyle again. Slowly. One event at a time. Coming out of our home and getting involved again. And, I could not be prouder...of myself, my family, and my community. We're not perfect. But, nobody else is either.
And, we are still here. And, we are still Queer. And, we are not going anywhere.
Have a great Sunday. Lane