President Obama has proclaimed the month of June (2010) to be LGBT Pride month. This is a pretty significant gesture.. at least in my book. It shows that the president does indeed respect the LGBT population, and stands with us in our efforts to gain equal rights.
I think the significance of a having a black president making the proclamation is even more striking. Only 5 decades ago, African Americans were still segregated in some areas of the United States, as well as being denied many rights under the law. It wasn't until the mid 1960's when then president, Lyndon B. Johnson, signed the Civil Rights Law into effect that the flood gates of legal acceptance could be opened. As we all know however, social acceptance and tolerance takes a little more time.
President Obama, in this act, is at least acknowledging the struggle of so many LGBT persons who are still denied some of the most basic of civil rights, as well as under go ridicule and persecution for being born different.
I attended Buffalo's annual Gay Pride parade down Elmwood Avenue, ending at Bidwell Park. The parade itself is rather lame... My friends and I kept joking that we don't really use "floats" like in most parades... we decorate vans and trucks and drive them down the street. But still.. it's pretty cool to see such a large turn out of people, both walking in the parade and watching from the side lines.
The week leading up to Sunday was very sunny and hot... Sunday morning we got rain and colder temps. Just our luck. We felt like we were back in October.. which would be nice... if it were Fall, not summer. Thankfully, the rain stopped before the parade and held out the rest of the day. I of course ended up carrying around my stupid umbrella just in case the rain returned (it stayed pretty cloudy most of the day)... since yours truly has an aversion to getting soaked... and of course, my straw hats do not fare well when wet. I guess I'm a high maintenance homo after all?
Despite the weather.. there was a great turn out. I met up with my good friend Collin and a visitor from Rochester whom Colllin had met the night before. Rochester Ron and I hit it off quickly... both being substitute teachers and Social Studies certified. Our odd sense of humor helped too. :) You can see the three of us in the picture.
I got to meet up with a lot of old friends and make new friends throughout the day. In the past, I have always left the park around 3pm (the parade started at 1pm)... after making my rounds and saying "hello". This year, Collin's neighbor (who lives within walking distance of the festivities) had an open house with food and drinks. We wandered over there for some good eats, and more new people to meet.
Thinking I was headed home after our late lunch... we were persuaded to make our ways to one of the local bars for a drink or two. Now THAT was fun.... For those who enjoy people watching.. head to a gay bar sometime and find a good seat. You never know who or what you will see.
Fast forward to the end of the night and getting home at 10pm. We were all exhausted by the time we left.. but in a good way. To me, that is what the pride celebrations are all about. Throughout the year, many of us may feel alone and isolated... wandering around the world labeled as "other". But during celebrations like this, we are able to get together, stand up and be counted. There are men and women present from all backgrounds, age groups, nationalities and occupations. While God, in His infinite wisdom, may have made us different from the status quo.. we remind ourselves that life is not always black and white ONLY.. but rather a mixture of all the colors of the rainbow. :)