Hope everyone had a good Pride Month, despite the haters. Looking forward to Pride merch going on clearance at big box stores. Because if 50% off doesn’t say, “We support you, LGBTQ+ community,” what does?
My wife and I missed most of the Pride events in Michigan because of scheduling issues, but we did attend the Berkley Pride Block Party and honestly, it was really great. I saw gender being proudly expressed in all different forms by people of all ages. I saw lots of dogs, including a St. Bernardoodle (part poodle, part St. Bernard) who was wearing a little rainbow shirt with her hair in a fun little top knot (most importantly, I got to pet her).
I also saw lots of families. So many families. Babies and toddlers decked out in rainbow apparel being pushed in strollers or elementary age kids holding hands with parents wearing t-shirts reading things like, “Ally,” “Love Wins,” “Love is love” and “It’s not a phase” (complete with a phases of the moon graphic).
There were two gay-straight alliance (GSA) groups there with their own booths: Troy and Berkley. It was really cool to see the teens gathered around those booths, especially Berkley’s because they had a very popular tie-dye station. My wife, who heads the GSA at her school, got to meet other GSA teacher leaders and students. She even ran into two of her students and their parents and it was really cool to see how much these kids looked up to her and how much she clearly cares about them. My wife is pretty awesome.
My wife and I spoke to the folks at the Detroit City FC table, which we gravitated toward because our son really digs soccer. We learned that they are raising a ton of money for the Ruth Ellis Center.
I also got a very informative lesson about NARCAN at the Corktown Health table and even got some NARCAN to take with me. NARCAN, if you aren’t familiar, is a nasal spray you can administer to someone having an opioid overdose and has saved many lives. If you or someone you know is using opioids, you should really have some on hand. The opioid crisis in this country has gotten so bad that I suggest you learn how to use NARCAN and carry it with you in public because you could very well save someone’s life.
There were, of course, protestors. Or, more accurately, there was one protestor. A guy with a Madonna-style headset and an amplifier preaching that God condemns immoral sexual practices and other greatest hits of the religious-right. I honestly don’t remember much of what he said because I, like almost everyone else there, tuned him out. Some Pride attendees confronted him or tried to engage with him, which is always a mistake. Folks like this crave attention and the best thing to do is to make them wallow in their lonely outsider status by ignoring them completely.
I do remember him saying something along the lines of “I’ve been doing this all month,” traveling from Pride event to Pride event with his little mic and amp production to yell at people who are trying to find a bit of joy in what is often a very hard world to live in. I wouldn’t say I felt sad for him, because if he didn’t get something out of it, he wouldn’t do it. But I was struck by how profoundly pathetic it is to dedicate your life to hating other people and hiding behind the guise of “God.” What a loser, truly.
Unfortunately, some of these losers are violent and we live in a country where it’s easier to get a gun than it is to unsubscribe from an Amazon Prime trial. Yet another reason to stay the hell away from these folks. Don’t engage them. Don’t crowd around them. Don’t make yourself an easy target. It’s something my dad, who was a criminologist, taught me from an early age: If you sense trouble of any kind, turn around and head the other way.
Of course, the anti-LGBTQ+ folks aren’t just lonely dudes at a local Pride fest. They are at every level of power and dominate the Republican Party. They are making laws about trans bodies intended to eradicate trans people from existence. They want to overturn marriage equality. They want to undo all of the gains LGBTQ+ people have fought so hard for.
At times, it can feel hopeless when there are so many people with so much power working against us. But we can’t just turn and head the other way. We need to head toward the ballot box. We need to organize and support candidates who value LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+ lives. We need to run for office ourselves. Here’s hoping that the rainbow glitter still stuck to us from Pride is a reminder that love really can win.
D’Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.