Monday, June 30, 2014

LGBTQI Pride: A Fly on the Wall of History




The sun had begun to soften behind the elegant tops of the Queen palms, its slick orange glow spreading a hot, translucent haze over the chest-pounding rumble of a sea of giant Harleys. 

For the most part, they rode in pairs: the old and the young, some mothers; all of them daughters, the working and the unemployed, professionals and not, their resilient women’s thighs astride their shiny chromed machines, with a latent energy so fiery sweet I could taste it on my tongue. Dykes-on-Bikes, I was told by one who knew them, a magnificent body of female strength - fortified and made whole -  liberated, they would say - by a sisterhood forged in the burning heart of psychic and physical love.
I watched from my place beside them, my anonymous spirit among them; milling around me were the marchers, the dancers. The chocolate-skinned. The golden-haired. The closely-cropped, the leather-clad; young men and old, conservatively attired or resplendent in elegant drag. I closed my eyes - the better to focus - and felt the sweeping surge of a tribe’s raw emotion – pride in their identities. Just PRIDE, as they’ve come to call it. 
I breathed them in, filling my whole self with the power of us assembled. A spark of adrenalin tingled at the tips of my fingers. Then, as in the old days, I knew the odd sensation for exactly what it was: the existential energy that can lift one off the ground when the cause is just, and the stakes are stratospheric, and the change that’s transforming our corner of the world is long past due.
As a daughter of the troubled sixties, I’ve done my share in the public square  – marching in solidarity with the lunch counter sit-ins. For farm laborers. For gender equality. For a planet steeped in peace. Of course, by my measure, this is exactly as it should’ve been, since here in the US, there’s a banner-filled history of parades for equal rights - human rights, really: marches against slavery, for women’s right to vote, for an end to nuclear testing, just to name a few.
So I found myself back in time last week, on a steamy night in Florida, when our throng filled the streets with flash and blaring music and the multi-colored twinkle of illuminated floats, as the reaffirming smiles of many thousands lined our route, cheering and watching in animated wonder, mothers, fathers, children awash in a sweaty moonlight. 
We walked for what seemed like miles to me - out of shape, out of breath - a rainbow world of humanity come purposefully together. LGBT and straight, in no way did it matter; we were partners in the cause for the stark and pivotal truth of it: abridgement of any soul’s basic human rights withers and weakens the whole of us. Truncates us all.

Exactly 50 years since our nation’s Freedom Summer, when folk of good conscience across the US joined in solidarity in the full-out, bloody battle for civil rights, it felt right that Florida night to be back on the wall of history, a gadfly still, with silver at my temples, continuing my part… and the struggle goes on.
Strings of shiny beads coiled by the pound round my arm; strand by single strand, I placed them into the hands of the children, the sparkle in their eyes giving light to my private darkness, urging my solemn promise to help ensure their freedoms. To continue to do what I can. Every small bit matters. I’ve got kids too. And grandchildren, praise Heaven. More than for those starlit cherubs along the way, I walked for my own. 

At the end of the night, my daughter on the car seat beside me, the ache in my feet felt right. Memorable and good. And in ways that I hadn't in a very long time, I felt at home.






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13 comments:

  1. Clarence Bryant, Jr.March 29, 2015 at 6:25 PM

    I feel that everyone deserves the right to choose who they want to be sexually, who they want to be with and furthermore how they want to live their life. I have heard that PRIDE New York was a Huge event and vey interesting to see the wildness in the parade. I feel like Martin Luther King said, "Free At Last Free At Last." All I say about that is Live Life to the Fullest because at he end of life, we must all give an account for ourselves.

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  2. Really extra, I believe that a men and women should be together, having said that I make no judgment how anyone lives there life.

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  3. I love it. I have attended PRIDE in St. Petersburg with a few of my "good girlfriends" and had sort of the same feeling. Not only did I enjoy myself with the music, the floats, men in drag dancing in the streets, and drinks flowing. It was kind of a freeing experience. Being a straight woman in a sea full of gay people, one would think that I would be uncomfortable. That was not the case. With the exception of Carnival, that was probably one of the only events that I have attended were I wasn't looked at and judged for who I was, what I had on or who I was with.

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  4. I have gay friends and I love them the same as I do anyone else and whomever they choose to be with is their decision and I can't change that and I am not trying to. With that being said we have to stop point fingers at others and look at ourselves in the mirror before we try to judge.

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  5. Growing up on the west coast regularly included weekends in SF. Open sexual orientation is the norm in this glamorous city. I have enjoyed clubbing at Castro and partied with some beautiful transgender people. Makeup, clothes and hair, a straight man would have a hard time knowing. The question heard in their brain might sound like this: "wow is that a woman or a man." I miss my sister city of SF. It only took 1 hour to fly their from Vegas. Fun times always fast and loose....

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  6. Being that I once lived a lesbian lifestyle and did believed in equality for all; however, my views have changed. I'm all for "doing you" what that may mean but I choose not to take part. I respect your choices and will hope the same in return, but don't expect me to involve myself in planning/attending your wedding. I have friend and family member that live that life style and I love them the same.

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  7. Many people are born with an attraction to the same sex. They do not have the benefit of telling someone what sex they would like to be beforehand. We must allow everyone the ability to live their lives to the fullest and have no regrets. Who are we to judge? dhart

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  8. You cAnt help who you fall in love with. I believe people are born how they are if they are attracted to the same sex. I'm not one to judge. Because people are so conservative some would even say african americans should only marry African Americans

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  9. When people aren't following a "book" of rules they are the first to be judged. I've surrounded myself in a similar atmosphere and felt so alive but was that because people were "living" life? Underneath everyone's flesh is a skeleton.

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  10. I love this and love how proud the LBGTQI community is . they are embracing themselves and will continue to fight for equal rights for themselves as a community. this movement reminds me of the civil rights movement from the 50's and 60's.

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  11. It amazes me to see how much the LBGTQ community has grown and how strong they get day after day

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  12. I applaud the LBGTQ communities for standing up for what they believe. This group of people has come such a long way and are some of the most successful individuals in our society today.

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