Even before we were lesbians (actually I felt like a lesbian before we knew we’d be perceived as lesbians because my husband was so tender), and of course we’re really not lesbians, if you want to get official. But … well before we were lesbians, we attended the NC Pride Parade as allies. Now it feels more personal because of course we appear as lesbians, but in fact we’re even more in the majority: a transgender couple. But what does that really mean, anyway? There are a bunch of terms and definitions for everyone, but let me use my favorite: human beings. We, the People.
But what I want to say is: I love pride parades and ours in North Carolina specifically. This year seemed especially vibrant, maybe because we all rallied so hard to fight Amendment One. We lost the vote, but we gained traction. The other reason was it rained all dang day, but I swear there were many more people in the parade and watching the parade than two years ago when it was a lovely day. (We were in New Mexico during last year’s fest.) So that was a thrill. We even arrived late because we figured it would be small and start late (as it has in the past). The parade route is only a mile from our house in Durham, so that makes us lackadaisical. Darn if we didn’t miss the front, including my neighbor’s youth group, iNSIDEoUT.
But we saw many college floats, including Duke, University of North Carolina, North Carolina State, Eastern Carolina, and Appalachian State University. Thanks for coming, y’all! And I introduced myself to LaWana Mayfield, who had a car in the parade but was admirably walking (in the rain). She’s a black lesbian city councilwoman in Charlotte. Yay, LaWana! The Time Warner float was packed, and made me feel a little less irritated about forking over too much money every month for our cable, internet and phone. Music was blaring from all the bar-tended floats as well as from party central, which every year is Mad Hatter café. And every year I sent a silent word of thanks to Duke for allowing East Campus to be taken over with information booths, vendors, and thousands and thousands of people. Speaking of rituals, there’s always a contingency of “newborn Christians,” as my Dutch wife called them, across from Mad Hatter protesting. “Born again, hon!” I said. I actually don’t know what they are, but I get sad when I see them, not so much because they’re anti gay but because what if their children are gay? Will they accept them or reject them? They have as much right to be there protesting as we do celebrating, and they believe in their righteousness as much as we do. Then again, we ARE right! (But I do try to keep an open heart.)
Mostly I’m just thrilled to see the joy, the love, the celebration out in the public. Lina and I both got choked up at various times, me because I always do at parades (The humanity! The exhultation!) and her because she spent four decades in the closet, denying herself and fearing reject. Now, here she is and here others are like her! I’m 54 and have seen enough closets in my lifetime to bask in the openness that is now and know that the future will only grow brighter. And I thank, deeply and reverentially, those who have walked before us in much darker times, holding their flickering candles along the parade route. Thank you!