Pride month is over. We marched, we partied, we celebrated in the streets all across our country and in many countries around the world. What a month!
But not all the celebrations went off as planned. I received an email yesterday from an ally in New York City who marched for the first time with a group of our allies called the Resistance Group. He said he put on his comfortable shoes and proceeded to salsa with the other allies from his congregation and a group from the church where they meet. To prepare for the march, they made signs, listened to gay clergy expressing the need for our allies to be present, and started the day with a joint prayer service. He didn’t know what he was in for, but was willing to give it a try. As he approached the end of the parade – exhausted, sweaty, and sunburnt – someone in the crowd yelled out “Yes, you get it you sexy ally!” His first thought was, wow, I still have it. But that was followed quickly with misgivings of having attention drawn to himself and not the folks he was out to support. They hugged, exchanged thank yous and then finished the parade. His response to the day, the long parade, the hugs and shouts, was that he, the ally, was proud to have the opportunity to march, and humbled that he wasn’t wearing his new friend’s high heels.
On a sadder note, the reports coming in from the Dyke March in Chicago were not so good. A group showing up with a Pride flag with a Star of David in the center (a symbol of Zionism) was informed that they could not march. They were told that others did not feel safe with a flag they felt was a symbol of the state of Israel. The Dyke March organizers have gone on record to say that what they did was anti-Zionist, but not anti-Semitic. Many postings on Facebook have argued both sides, but in the end, the group did not get a chance to belong and march with other queer folk.
Groups planning some marches said there was no room for “kink” in their march. They wanted to present themselves as “normal.” What? What was their normal? How can one group define what normal is? Who should be invited and who should be left out?
What does this say about us? As an activist, I (personally) learned a long time ago that the work we need to do takes all of us – the queer community and allies, men and women, all colors, all sizes, all political alliances, all religions, all. If we come to the table and there isn’t enough room, add another table, bring in more chairs, find a way to expand so that everyone can be heard, welcomed, and a part of the whole. If we are to succeed, be equal in all ways, we need to make sure that we all are there. If one of us is excluded, we are doing something wrong.
Our celebrations have come to an end, but the work is ahead of us. We must open all the doors, welcome all, and work together. There is so much work to do. Equality will not be ours if we do not treat all members of our community as equals. Start today, please.
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