I marched in the Pride Parade this week for the first time in many, many years. I needed to.
Recent Pride festivals have been all celebration and parties. Great fun! And, a real spectacle for the just-arrived refugees and asylum seekers that my church has been helping settle in San Francisco. I loved showing off the Chief of Police marching in Pride to a man who was beaten by his hometown police just a few months ago. And, of course, the floats and marching contingents with scantily clad eye candy impress newcomers and jaded old men alike!
I have watched most Pride marches in the past 20 years as a happy spectator. Some years, we’ve been complacent enough to skip them altogether and go directly to cocktails with friends. The parades were geared for fun and for younger, heartier partiers than I am.
This year was different.
The rights of LGBT community, non-white, and non-Christian people are under attack by the United States government.
Under the guise of “security”, President Trump and his supporters are focusing on all types of minorities as problems which pose a danger and must be excluded from their version of American society.
They put up roadblocks to freedom for the weak refugees and asylum seekers. They gut Federal equality rules, saying that the States should decide whether or not discrimination is okay.
They abandon decades-old policies of encouraging democracy and the respect for human rights around the world. Instead, they now ignore the organized murder of gay people in Chechnya and the jailing and killing of political opponents by dictatorial regimes so long as the oppressors are servile and fawning to Trump’s face.
So, this year at Pride, we needed to say that we are not going along with the immoral policies of the Trump administration.
Geoffrey and I marched with the SF Pride Board RESIST contingent. The theme was political, not purely festive.
Melanie, the Vice President of this year’s Pride committee, invited one of the Guardian Group’s clients to join her contingent which proclaimed that refugees are welcome here. Geoffrey and I were also asked to walk in solidarity with the refugees and asylum seekers, and a group from our allies at the Jewish Family and Community Services of the East Bay (JFCS/EB) came, too.
We were the first group on foot in the parade, following the Dykes on Bikes (“The Women’s Motorcycle Contingent”), the traditional parade vanguard.
All the way down Market Street we smile, waved,… and yelled our resistance.
The call-and-response varied somewhat, but the theme was consistent: RESIST.
- They say Muslim ban, we say… RESIST
- They say “no” to refugees, we say… RESIST
- RESIST… RESIST!
Along the whole parade route, the crowds on the sidewalk responded and encouraged us. They applauded, waved, and joined in the chanting. We and the crowd were happy, festive, and political!
After we passed by, later in the parade, there were pretty frolicking boys and girls celebrating their freedom. Politicians rode in their cars, organizations showcased their Pride, and corporations proclaimed their support of their queer employees. All good.
But, this year I am glad that the Pride committee led off the celebration with a bite of resistance.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. This Pride I hope we contributed a bit to American freedom.