I saw a young man walking down a hill waving his butterfly wings, teetering on eight inches of platform heels. Wings and heels were emblazoned with the symbol of the day: A rainbow. In the moment it took him to cross the street in front of us, I was able to compartmentalize this event as something not wholly unique on Pride Weekend in San Francisco. What made it unique was the fact that there was not a flock of young men in similar costume trailing behind him.
Travelling down Market Street, I noticed rainbow flags hanging from poles, in windows, in public and private places. It wasn't a secret. It wasn't one neighborhood. It was the city that was coming out to say that we're here, we're queer, and we're having a parade. A parade that was going to be joined by a protest. Not from the Westboro Baptist Church. The LGBT community is currently under fire from groups who believe that Pride is too white. Too male.
Like so much about what is wrong with the world: too white, too male. Finding a way to get things not white or male or both leads to more inclusion. As the stranglehold white males have had over all manner of things in these United States begins to recede, white rage increases. Nice that the rage that has been engendered by white males all these years has finally come back to them. And yes, it is difficult to imagine that gay men might be included in this equation, at first. Then I remember my first gay pride rally.
In the spring of 1975, my family took a trip back east to visit a friend in New York. Wandering with my father and brothers through the theater district in Manhattan in search of tickets for a show that folks from Colorado might enjoy, we rounded a corner and ran smack into a dance party or protest or something that was unfamiliar to our Rocky Mountain senses. Young men in short shorts and fishnet tank tops and all manner of colorful attire were gathered in a throng, yelling and exhorting and making an enthusiastic fuss. I don't remember what was written on their signs, but I do remember one of them offering my father lip gloss. I also remember that most, if not all, of these young men were white.
My parents were friends with a number of white men back in Boulder. Some of them were gay. This was one of the ways we were able to show off how open minded we were. We understood their struggle for acceptance, though we didn't attend the rallies, not that there were any back in those days.
Now I live in the Bay Area, and all that acceptance is tested by the rainbow of diversity that exists here, surrounding this white male. I thought we had that whole LGBT thing figured out here, just like I imagined that electing Barack Obama fixed that racism deal.
I guess not. Time to open the door just a little wider and let everyone in, regardless of race, creed, color, sexuality, or shoe size.