Sunday October 5 I walked in the Little Rock Pride parade with my church, New Beginnings
I felt nervous because, until recently, I thought of Pride events as flamboyant displays of debauchery. People in wild, revealing costumes, sticking tongues and fingers in everyone’s orifices, humping in the street, and other “crazy” behavior.
But I love my church and wanted to walk in solidarity with my brothers and sisters. I considered wearing a wig and my signature rainbow tutu.
But I wanted to just be me. Katie as you see her every day. Ok, so, yes, there were some people dressed in “dramatic” costumes, but the majority of parade participants and spectators were “normal” people.
I also felt nervous about protesters. Would we be assaulted? What if I am caught on camera? Could being part of this event somehow return to haunt or to hurt me?
I marveled at the spectators, clapping, shouting cheers, holding signs. I thanked every one of them I could.
Many people were in the River Market as another Sunday afternoon, lunching, walking with their families, enjoying a beautiful fall day. I wondered what their thoughts are to encountering this event. Did they see the parade as a novelty? Entertainment? Something to scoff at and talk to their friends about later (“oh we saw a bunch of gays/freaks when we were in Little Rock)? Or did they appreciate it for what it was..a sincere showing that we are people, just like any other, who want to be able to live our lives as non-LGBTQ people.
I felt proud of the people who marched in the parade. And I felt sad and angry about those who felt like they couldn’t for a number of reasons: intolerance and backlash from friends or family, exposing their children and/or partners to hatred, possibility of losing their jobs (Arkansas is a right to work state; we can be fired at any time for any reason…or no reason). I flushed with anger about that.
I thought of demonstrations/celebrations throughout our country’s history:
My friend Jessica said, “…how important it is for us, the lgbt community, to be visible and expand people’s idea of the queer population…shoving it in your face is not what pride is about, but falling in love with someone and wanting to cuddle [with] her on the couch while watching episodes of things on hulu…that is what it is about: Humanity! Commonality! Above all Love.”
My partner and I look forward, someday, to being fully “out.” We must be discreet due to her job and family situation. We both hate it, but it’s a reality.
To the “straight allies” who marched and spectated, thank you. To the LGBTQ people who risked being in the parade, thank you. Maybe someday we won’t need parades. We’ll just live.
6 years ago Mom was visiting me in Little Rock when she mentioned she had a dimple in her breast. She said she would call her doctor when she returned home. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. 5 years ago she completed the Little Rock Komen Race for the Cure, cancer free. Love you, Mom!