Through death and sedition, Pride endures

The Philadelphia Pride march on June 5.

I write this on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre. It is early morning. Cars are being towed below my window to make way for the Capital Pride parade. On an earlier anniversary, members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington stood beside the Dupont Circle fountain and sang in memory of the Pulse victims.

As I contemplate the state of America this Pride season, it is less than thirty-six hours since Rep. Liz Cheney’s devastating summary of the case against Donald Trump and his co-conspirators in the attempted overthrow of our government. The violent images from the House January 6 Committee’s video of the insurrection at the Capitol fill my mind. Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards, who was wounded by rioters, testified, “I was slipping in people’s blood.”

Death is never distant. The Gay Men’s Chorus family (I was a cofounder in 1981) is grieving the loss of our longtime vocal coach, a witty and kind man who has died at 81. Another chorus founder turns 81 in two weeks. Those who survived AIDS long enough to die of other causes have borne the burden of endurance and memory. Much teaching is done out of school.

Individuals pass away, but our community lives on to face new struggles. In this time of threat to democracy, unscrupulous politicians like Florida governor Ron DeSantis throw kindling on the culture wars, including demonizing LGBTQ people. A video of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s new intern, professedly ex-gay Milo Yiannopoulos, in drag mocking Rep. Ilhan Omar only confirms that the toxic Georgia congresswoman can spot a soulmate.

Another congressional hearing on violence featured 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo, a survivor of the Uvalde school shooting, testifying via pre-recorded video that she smeared a classmate’s blood on herself and played dead. Another girl at Robb Elementary called 911 using her teacher’s phone after it fell when the teacher was fatally shot.

The resourcefulness of those brave girls should shame us into striving to be worthy of them. Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell used a foiled attack on Justice Brett Kavanaugh to demand that the House pass increased security for Supreme Court justices “before the sun sets today.”

I am relieved to know that Justice Kavanaugh is better protected than schoolchildren. But when security measures are shown to have worked, perhaps we should redirect our attention to situations where they have not. Incidentally, I hope Mitch is equally solicitous of the safety of incoming Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. The GOP is highly selective with its moral indignation.

Republicans responded to the primetime June 9 congressional hearing by saying contradictorily that they didn’t watch and it was a snooze fest and there was nothing new. Despite mountains of evidence, they mock, dismiss, deflect, and deny the truth about Trump’s attempted coup.

Trump’s continued insistence that the presidency was stolen from him and that he be reinstated recalls a scene in “Game of Thrones.” Viserys keeps demanding his golden crown and draws his sword, a capital offense in the sacred city. Finally Khal Drogo crowns him by pouring molten gold on his head. Daenerys coldly observes that her brother, having died by fire, was no true dragon.

Of course it would be barbaric to pour molten gold on Trump’s head. It is something one of his dictator friends would do. As to whether he is a true dragon, let us not compare those wondrous creatures to someone of such low character.

Still, there is something medieval about the MAGA crowd. A video shown by the January 6 committee features the Proud Boys marching belligerently through our capital city chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” Pardon me, but the streets belong to everyone.

I admit that some of these fascist hooligans have their roughhewn appeal. Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, now boasting the street cred of a seditious conspiracy charge, looks ready for his Tom of Finland photo shoot as he lurks menacingly behind dark glasses. He will be a big hit in prison.

Contrary to the counterproductive and short-sighted decision by some Pride organizations to bar police from participating in marches, a fitting response to the Trumpist thugs is to show solidarity with the good officers who defended our Capitol. We can also display our pride by putting the defense of our imperiled republic ahead of grievances over gas and grocery prices.

As a gesture to our would-be tyrant, we can throw gold glitter on an effigy of his head.

Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist at [email protected]