Monday, June 6, 2011
Pride is a time to be PROUD!
This past weekend I attended my first Pride Festival. I was more than a little intimidated at first, expecting the stereotypical lasciviousness and debauchery that usually graces the front page of the Salt Lake Tribune the day after the event (true to its sensationalist instincts, today’s Tribune article about Pride leads with a picture of a hot twink in a Speedo).
Pride turned out to be one of the most affirming, uplifting experiences of my life.
First, I was amazed at the number of people who attended. All totaled, over 28,000 participated in the proceedings on Washington Square and tens of thousands lined the parade route through downtown Salt Lake City on Sunday morning. According to the television news, the Pride Parade is now the largest parade in Utah, beating out the Days of ’47 parade in July.
Second, I was overwhelmed by the emotional impact of the event. While the overall atmosphere was celebratory, I repeatedly saw men and women openly weeping because something touched them at their core. At the history display (thanks Scott Nicholson for your beautiful work), queer people wept. At the Utah Gay Fathers booth (thanks, Ben Visser, Charles Bigo, and Kevin Riddle for making a great thing happen), queer people wept. As the Rainbow Flag, the size of a football field, passed down the parade route, queer people wept. As they entered the festival grounds for the first time and saw tens of thousands of queer people and their allies, these queer people wept.
For me seeing so many people like me was freeing. It was beautiful.
Third, I was gratified to see a large number of families attending the Festival. Mothers and mothers and fathers and fathers watched the parade together with their children and attended the Festival together with their children. Despite Utah’s draconian adoption laws and antiquated views on “protecting” our little ones, it was wonderful to see queer parents loving their youngsters and watching healthy well-adjusted youngsters loving their parents.
While there was a reasonable number of drag queens and scantily clad men in the parade and on the festival grounds (now, is that a problem???), there was little at the event to justify the fear or intimidation that had colored my opinion prior to attending Pride.
On the contrary, the people I met, the things I saw, the entire experience moved me more than once. In the end, I have to say that Pride Weekend was an affirmation that life is good, that we are good, and that in the end, all will be well.