Pride, Proud, Prude


So today was Gay Pride in Portland, across the bridge from Vantucky where I live.  I used to live in Portland and Vancouver’s Gay Pride is kind of miniature and boring (no offense), so I’m more inclined to go to Portland’s.  Thus we sat on aluminum bleachers for a butt-numbing two and a half hours watching rainbow-clad individuals from literally ALL walks of life.  The bleachers were located directly in front of one of the premier gay clubs (The Embers) and there was an umbrella’d booth of big drag queens giving hilarious color commentary.  Aside from the hardness of the bleachers, it was a good time.

We don’t take our kids to Gay Pride.  It’s not that I’m not all SUPER GAY PROUD and stuff, although to be truthful I’ve been out for so long (more than twenty years now) and I consider it to be just a slightly different facet to my otherwise ridiculously average life that I feel kind of… post-gay.

I mean, I don’t go to GINGER PRIDE.  There’s no parade for BUNION SUFFERERS.  We PSYCHIATRIC NURSE MANAGERS don’t hang out at the waterfront all day extolling the virtues of underpaid social service jobs and purchasing specialty merchandise from one another.  So in a way, I kinda don’t get it sometimes.

But then I remember how we sometimes get killed for being gay, how we’re denied basic rights that heterosexual folk get just for being straight, and how difficult and isolating it is for gay etc. youth (or adults for that matter) to come out to their families, so I do get it.

I just wish I didn’t have to.

The whole Pride thing is supposed to be somewhat family-friendly, with parade participants handing out candy and stickers and balloons and Mardi Gras beads to the kiddos, but there is one large reason why I don’t want to take the kids to Pride.   And that would be the scantily-clad folk, of all persuasions, and the minority-sexual-proclivities type groups who march in the parade.

I just don’t want to try to explain to my 8-year-old what BDSM is, or why some people are into leather.  There was a guy marching in one of the leather-enthusiasts groups in black leather underwear wearing a mask that covered his entire head, and his bare back was red with welts from being slapped with leather implements by others in the group. There was another fellow similarly clad suspended from a — well, let’s just call it a “specialty recreational swing,” on a trailer pulled behind a vehicle in (if I recall correctly) the same group.  There was a woman standing near him and he was rocking in place such that it simulated (very superficially) a sexual act.  This is not something I think is terrifically appropriate for children to see.  Speaking just for my child, she’s wicked smart and doesn’t miss much.  I think that this kind of knowledge is burdensome for children.  If she’s too young to really understand what sex is all about, she’s much too young to see this.

I just don’t think this highly sexualized stuff belongs in a parade in public spaces.  Sometimes that makes me feel prudish, but I have always felt this way watching Gay Pride parades, which I started doing long before I had a child.  I thought the entire point of Pride activities was to support and educate — and I suppose the argument can be made that these groups are trying to educate — but I am not sure that this venue is appropriate for this.  None of it interests me in the slightest but I know that there are people of all orientations who find it compelling, I don’t judge and all that — but does it belong in the Gay Pride parade?

I managed not to get too sunburned although I can’t say the same for The Lovely Rhonda.  I did offer the sunscreen to her but she declined.  Next year I’m just going to spray her like a protester.  IT’S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.

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