“There are no gates in heaven
Everyone gets in
Queer or straight
Souls of every faith
Hell is in our minds
Hell is in this life
But when it’s gone
God takes everyone”
Our city celebrated its 25th Pride parade today. I try to go as often as I can, although you’ll remember what happened last year.
The only issue holding me back was that my wife was out-of-town for the weekend and I wasn’t sure if I would be comfortable heading downtown with our three-year old daughter on my own. In the end, a facebook message from my friend Kaj convinced me. It read in part, “I am so excited that you and Audrey will be coming down tomorrow. I had this dream all week that we could get a t-shirt for Audrey that said I love my two gay Dads and she could wear it and it would be awesome.” That would be pretty funny, I thought, and Kaj seemed so looking forward to seeing us, how could I stay home? Also, he told me to text him when we got down there so he’d know where to find us. I had to remind him that in fact I didn’t have a cell phone. He thought that was awesome too and finished his message, “I’ll make it my mission to find you guys tomorrow!”
Audrey and I got down there in good time. We were walking towards the front of the parade route when I heard someone shout out my name. No, it wasn’t Kaj. Want to take a stab at who it was? That’s right, Mary of the social! She’s in a roller derby league and each one of them was dressed as a different colour of the rainbow. “I’m orange,” she said. I told her the orange wig gave her away. I asked her how she spotted me in the huge crowd.
“I thought it was you!” she exclaimed. “I mean, how many guys do I know that wear wool socks in the summer?” She had me there. I told her my dilemma about meeting Kaj, and she said she could text him for me. The only problem was that neither one of us had his number, so that was the end of that. I told her that if she saw Kaj, to let him know I was looking for him.
As people gathered, I thought about why I always try to make it out to Pride. Andrew Swan, our minister of justice, spoke before the parade and talked about the “sea of acceptance and diversity” that he saw before him. I guess it has to do with that, but for me it’s always great to just see people out there having fun, being who they are, and being accepted for who they are.
And the music is really catchy. I heard a great remix of Coldplay’s Viva La Vida coming from one of the floats that’s going to be stuck in my head all day.
I realized that two of Audrey’s favourite things, balloons and bubbles, were in abundance and I set out to score her a little of both. I ended up getting her some beads too. Just call me “Super Dad”!
As we marched, I bumped into a number of people I knew: my high school choir teacher, who was such a positive influence on all of us then; my favourite law professor, in fact the only person on the faculty who had any heart and soul, in my opinion; and a fellow branch head librarian who had recently moved here from Edmonton. “I’m so glad I saw you!” she told me. She told me that very morning she had read a blog on the CBC about how Pride is not just for gays and that the guy writing the post said his straight high school buddy, Trevor and his daughter Audrey would be coming. She didn’t know that many people in this city, but she thought that the blogger could have been writing about me. The blogger, of course, was Kaj! I had no idea he had written this at the time, that was pretty cool. Here’s a link to the blog, and with that Mountains Beyond Mountains has been officially recognized by the corporation, oh excuse me, I mean the Corporation.
Well as it turned out, I never did bump into Kaj. It’s not unexpected, considering the thousands of people who turned up for the parade. Maybe next year we’ll get that t shirt sorted out, and maybe by next year we’ll have a cell phone.
Some years we’ve had people yell homophobic slurs at us while we marched, other years there have been counter protests. I didn’t see any of that this year. The closest thing came to a group wearing all black (standouts at a Pride parade for sure!) and holding up signs that said “I’m Sorry”. I think they were Christians who were apologizing for how the church has treated the gay community throughout history, but it kind of felt heavy handed and a little self-righteous. I felt like saying them “Come on guys, cheer up! Drop those signs and join the parade. God loves every one, even you!”