Showing our pride

This weekend, we decided to do a little getaway to Seattle for the weekend.  When we arrived, we discovered that the 2012 Pride Parade was happening on Sunday, and it would be right outside our hotel.  I’ve never been to a Pride Parade before, and, to be honest, didn’t really know what to expect.  I have seen pictures of some of the big ones, like Vancouver, Toronto and others, and have heard stories of some questionable outfits that might not be suitable for kids.  Despite this, we decided that we would take Q to the parade the next day, as we thought that it was important to expose him to different things and people.  Besides, we thought, if he saw a little bit of naked breast or butt, it wouldn’t be the first or last time, so no big deal.

Sunday rolled around, and about half an hour before the parade was scheduled to start, we wandered down the street to look for a good spot on the parade route.  The staging area was in front of the hotel, so we got some sneak peeks at some of the costumes, people and groups that we would see in the actual parade.  There were lots of colours, balloons and music, and Q looked quite interested.  We found our spot at the very end of the staging area, where the parade would start.  Leading off the parade was Dykes on Bikes.  The women had some amazing bikes, and they were very loud.  Watching them fire up the bikes was leading off the parade was a cool experience, and, to be honest, a little overwhelming.  They were fierce.  They all seemed so confident in who they were.  I know a lot of people (myself included), who could use a dose of that confidence.

There were groups representing companies like Starbucks and Microsoft.  Huge groups.  There were bankers who danced with horses on sticks (like the ones you played cowboys with when you were a kid) to “Moves like Jagger”.  There were kids, and families.  Men, and women.  People marching in support of friends and loved ones.  People in costumes that ranged from nothing at all to elaborate suits or dresses.  There were groups of naked bicycle riders.  People dancing and singing and cheering.  One woman carried a sign that said simply “My Mom came to Pride today for the first time.”.  I nearly cried at the sight of that.  There were parents from PFLAG.  Church groups, and people drawing attention to the fact that marriage is not allowed in all the states.  Soldiers, and law enforcement.

We were showered in beads, candies, stickers and condoms.  We were handed signs, and we bought Q a pride flag, which he waved proudly.  He got a sign on a stick that he held, and rainbow clappers from the Seattle Storm basketball team.  He waved, and danced, and smiled.  So many of the parade participants smiled and waved to him, and looked genuinely happy to see him there.  The crowd was friendly, and not once did I feel concerned for my safety, as I have at some other large public functions that I’ve been to in the past.

It really got me thinking.  So many people marching in that parade, proud to be who they were, have no support from the people that they love.  There have been so many horror stories of people who have been disowned by their families after coming out.  Kids and teenagers being bullied, sometimes to the point of suicide, for being brave and accepting the truth about themselves.  Growing up is hard enough without the added pressure of trying to be someone, or something, that you are not.  The mere thought of that makes me want to cry.  Sob, really. It breaks my heart.

As a parent, I cannot even fathom disowning Q for who he loves in the future.  Be it a woman or a man, it is his life and his love, and I have absolutely no place to choose that for him.  All that I ask is that he choose someone who loves him back, and will treat him well.  That is what matters.  Not what sex that person is.  I can’t understand how someone could judge another person for who they are attracted to, or who they choose to love.  It doesn’t matter to me – it’s between the two people involved, and as long as both are consenting adults, I don’t care.  Same goes with marriage and having a family.  There are many straight people who get divorced, and many gay people who spend their whole lives together.  Why is it any of my business to say that they can’t?  Oh, right, it’s not.

Of course, there was some sexual content in the parade, but it was not much, and, thankfully, when the completely naked, hairy, painted man walked by, along with the guys cracking the whips and carrying the chains, Q was in the bathroom.  He will know about these things soon enough, but I still want to keep him as my little boy for a little while longer.  I should also mention that there were people rocking some amazingly high heels, ones that I couldn’t even stand, let alone walk or dance, in.  I was amazed.

Overall, I’m really glad that we went, and I walked away feeling empowered and inspired.  No one should ever feel unloved because of who they love or who they are.  Thank you to everyone involved in the Seattle Pride Parade for a great event, and for opening my eyes, and welcoming our family to the festivities.

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