I attended my first Pride event on Saturday. It was held at a local park. A friend of mine was visiting from DC and we decided to go.
This was the third year for our local pride festival, but I was out of town on the same weekend the past two years and missed it. So, I was excited to attend. I'm always happy to see my mid-sized, fairly conservative town branching out and getting more diverse. I may not be gay, but all were welcome on Saturday. Plus, you know me - I'd attend a fair for lepers if I thought it would afford me an opportunity to eat fried foods and listen to a live band.
We arrived at the festival just after it opened at 11 a.m. There were two protesters on the sidewalk (facing the street) in front of the park. I couldn't read their signs very well, mostly due to the sheer wordiness of them. People with signs really need to give some consideration to exactly what passing motorists can read from a distance. I mean, if you want to spread your hate effectively, make sure your signs are legible and clear. Consider block letters, maybe.
We started off by visiting all of the various tents and booths. There were a number of vendors and non-profits there (and several churches, including my own). There was an opening speaker, a local college professor who was very worked up about bad legislation and how it affects the LGBT community (and I think it is worth mentioning that he is heterosexual - just someone who dislikes how society uses the legal system to oppress/suppress certain portions of the population). Later, a band played a lengthy but enjoyable set. I bought some raffle tickets and attempted to win some gift baskets (but of course won nothing).
Although we were having a great time, we couldn't help but notice that the temperature was soaring. We sat in the shade but still found ourselves getting awfully . . . damp. Once the temperature hit 90 or so, we opted to leave and find some air conditioning. Bars work so well for that purpose, don't they? On our way out, we noticed that the crowd of protesters had swelled to four. That takes some dedication, to spend your Saturday waving your poster board and pacing a sidewalk in oppressive heat.
Later in the afternoon, a storm blew through town and the temperature dropped at least 20 degrees. We went out to dinner with A&P and then went back to the pride event at around 7:30. We watched a comedy act (although the term "comedy" is used only loosely here - they were not funny) and then the closing musical act. After that, a DJ fired up some tunes and we sort of boogied in our chairs as I fretted about the mosquitoes circling my succulent flesh.
All in all, it was a good time and I enjoyed hanging out with my friend. As much as many folks want to believe that this sort of event is chock full of nudity and lewd behavior, it was downright sedate. Really, it was just a group of people spending time in a park on a summer day. It saddened me to realize that for some of the couples who were there on Saturday, pride fest is probably the one day of the year they can freely hold hands in public. I don't know why the term "gay lifestyle" persists. I have a few gay friends and would you like to know what their lifestyle consists of? Going to work every day. Mowing the lawn. Sometimes they get a little crazy and go to a movie. I know one same-sex couple who just finished gutting and refinishing their bathroom. I know, it's pretty scandalous.
If you feel the need to protest something, I have a few ideas for you. Groups worthy of protest:
- People who don't understand how merge lanes are intended to work. Seriously, the idea is to be going approximately the speed of traffic when you attempt to merge.
- People who talk on the phone while being rung up at a store. Are they a doctor? Is someone dying?
- Restaurant patrons who always insist on sitting at a different table than the one the host/hostess has offered. The food tastes the same wherever you sit. It's time they knew.
I'm sure I can think of more. In the mean time, peace be with you.