Friday, July 07, 2017

Ecstatic at Baltimore Pride Parade 2017

Written by  Ken Skrzesz
OUTloud co-publisher Jim Becker and partner/staff writer Jeffrey Clagett say ‘No!’ at NY Pride OUTloud co-publisher Jim Becker and partner/staff writer Jeffrey Clagett say ‘No!’ at NY Pride

Today, I stood on the corner of my street, in my neighborhood, in my city, in my country and I wept… As I took a long look down the incline of Charles Street, I saw, between Baltimore’s Washington Monument and me, a representation of America that is authentic and unstoppable. A shift in the wind, a helicopter fly-over, and a deafening cheer, collaborated to signal the leading drum line to begin.

Marching bands with spangled dancers in white boots and silver spandex tights strutted and dropped and twerked for their best audience ever. Beautiful young men and women, freed by the fierce rhythm and fabulous costumes, flipped their hair and found themselves moving in ways that could never be gender typed.

Incumbent senators and future governors tossed beads and required a “Happy Pride” response from the crowd. While the message of the American Civil Liberties Union was “Stop the abuse of power,” the crowd was also reminded that the Constitution is for the 100%.

Transgender teens walked behind “Black lives matter” signs and in front of “We are Orlando,” blurring any fiction that separates us. We cheered for the AIDS Action group, which, once again, told us that “SIlence equals death” as Planned Parenthood shouted for women’s rights.

Korean-American Rainbow Families marched near signs that read “Stop racist police terror” and “Justice for Philando Castile.” Universities and community colleges surrounded the Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays but were outnumbered by churches giving free hugs and proudly claiming that everyone was welcome.

The Old Bay seasoning truck tossed packets of samples (a smell that brings a smile to the face of every Baltimorean) as Bank of America, PNC, T. Rowe Price, UPS, BGE, Under Armour, and so many more, were represented by hundreds of employees and their families. The message was clear – we are the same and we are together.

The expected theatre companies and choruses and roller derby women were there, along with women on motorcycles and men in dresses. The parade-goers were delightfully surprised by the sage cleansing offered by the Native American Lifelines just before noticing the muscled, hairy legs of Baltimore’s own Pink Flamingo Rugby team.

We cheered as we read “God blessed us with two gay sons,” and “Queer or straight my students are great,” and “Queer black love,” and “Consent equals sex.”

Like my tears, not one of these glorious people, thousands and thousands of them, of all sexual identities, and cultural identities, and ethnic identities, will be contained. I wept for our country but not because of the insignificance of what will be a quickly forgotten error in judgment. Today I wept for the greatness of who we are and for the overwhelming energy of our diversity.

There are no walls to contain what I experienced today. There is not enough divisive language in the universe to change the parade route of where we are going as a nation. My tears were of joy and hope and belief that a new day is upon us. I am so excited to be living at this moment in time.


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