Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Gay Pride Month

June is Gay Pride month. 

I've only been in two "gay pride" parades or marches in my life. 

The first one was in 1979. It was the first LGBT march for equal right in Washington D.C. 

1979 March on Washington D.C. - I'm somewhere in that mass of people - oh how I wish I had taken my camera. What was I thinking?

I lived in Philadelphia at the time.  I was told a bus was taking folks down to Washington at no cost to participate in the march. At first I hesitated to go, fearing for my safety and embarrassing my family when I was arrested, which I sure would happen. I was so sure, I didn't take my camera with me because I didn't want it confiscated and destroyed. I thought what would be the point of taking pictures only to have them confiscated?

I was very nervous when I rode that bus full of participants in the march. The bus was so full, there were people sitting and lying on the floor.

When we arrived in Washington, the ominous quiet and sense of danger in the air was palatable. I'm not ashamed to admit, I was afraid but I was determined to march.

Several things from that march stand out so clearly. First was how the march was lined with D.C. cops lining the parade route, sitting on their tiny motorcycles. I thought at the time how comical they looked on those motorcycles who were so much smaller than the gay bikers in the march. 

Another thing I remember was how many "normal" marchers there were. I was expecting the Sisters of the Perpetual Indulgence 

drag queens and biker dudes but 98% of the marchers were just plain guys like me. Oh sure, those marchers were there but the greatest majority of marchers were like me, just regular gay guys (and women).  

And the last thing I remember was the deadly looks of some of the straight tourists who lined our march.  That "look", like we were some foreign species. That "look" seemed to say "There go THOSE QUEERS".  "How dare they show their faces in public."

My fears of being arrested were greatly overrated. The police were polite and protective. Sure, we got the dagger stares from some of the onlookers of the parade but for the most part, the parade was uneventful.

Oh, one more thing I remembered was how many people were there, at least a half a million. All those gay people and others who supported our cause. Man did that make me feel good. I wasn't alone. 

When I got home I expected to find that coverage but was disappointed to discover that most of the news media fixed on the extreme marchers. There they were, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the leather thonged clad biker dudes. Oh well.

In 2009, the 30th anniversary of the first march, another march was planned. Again, a free bus ride was provided from Rehoboth Beach (where I now lived) to Washington D.C. 

I had no hesitation this time about attending this march. And I even took my camera. In fact, I took over seven hundred pictures. Some of which are in this video I put together the beginning of this blog post. Yes, I took all these photos. I did miss taking videos though, iPhone weren't out yet in 2009.

What a difference this march was! In fact, there was another march for a different cause going on at the same time. This time there was no need to protect our parade route with D. C. cops on tiny motor cycles. 

The air was festive.

Smiles abounded. 

Even the tourists went about their business of touring. There were no stares of disgusts some thinking "What do THEY do in bed?"  

I won't be participating in any gay pride marches this month. Not that I have anything against them, but unless I get a free bus ride and have a friend to go with, I'll let others express their freedom to be who they are. 

Me and my friend Bob C. resting after the march near the Capitol - it was a beautiful day for a march


Moving with Mitchell said...

I only marched in the parade in San Diego but I used to always attend wherever we lived. I have yet to get to a Pride event here in Spain. I sure hope to do so next year.

Ron said...

You live in Spain? I didn't know. I'll have to check out your blog. Years ago I looked at your blog and I believe that you were thinking of moving. I have to get moving to keep up with my blog reading. Very cool, living in Spain. Looks like I have some catching up to do.

Ur-spo said...

good for you !

Travel said...

I took part in DC in 2009. It was great fun.

Ron said...

We probably passed in the march!

Ron said...

I just wish I had taken my camera with me at the 1979 march. A great regret on my part. I was certain I would be arrested. That's how dangerous it was in 1979 to come out publicly as a gay man.

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