I’m conflicted that Harvey Milk quotes are flooding my mind today.
On the obvious hand, he’s as much of a Pride legend as the Stonewall Inn.
On the more subtle hand?
The increasingly dark fears that patina the carelessness of my young adulthood; where the me that would party all night Friday and Saturday could still bounce out of bed for Bloody Marys and pre-parade funk on the Sunday morning of Pride. The younger me that traveled to as many Pride festivals as I could – in my SoCal locality like Long Beach, LA, San Diego, SF and Palm Springs; but also PDX (natch), Seattle, Denver, New Orleans, Tampa, Chicago…so many.
It was Pride, let us party!
I was that idiot.
The older me – heck, let’s get to him in a minute. The maturing me began to get tired of the “whole Pride thing” and my attendance became as infrequent as my dance. I went out less to party and get laid, more to spend time with friends. I became a sort of Pride gay.
Now, to the older me. I haven’t been to a Pride parade in about five years and maybe only two in the last decade. I go to the festivals on occasion, but only to take a spin through to say I was there. I don’t really watch the shows. I could care less about the booths, I’ve heard it all and seen it all. Well, that’s not entirely true, I do enjoy chatting with the people at booths like the FrontRunners and hearing their message. By and large, though, I’ve watched as Pride became more corporate as major businesses rushed in to Pride to show their support for our discretionary income. Those messages I can get from Facebook ads and signature gatherers.
So, where does this jaded elder statesman spend his Pride nowadays? Well, I live in Portland’s NW Park Blocks…right where the Pride parade stages its annual event.
The headwaters of Pride.
I’m sitting on a park bench as the Parade sets up its floats writing this.
I’m what I would call happy to be here. I’m kind of enjoying myself. I already walked up to the T-Mobile contingent as they assembled and asked if I could pay my bill there.
Oh, and I think I got stood up for this event…I was supposed to be having Bloody Marys – some things never go out of style! – with my barber and probably not-so-secret-crush.
Hey, he asked me.
He suggested we do something today. I reminded him it was Pride and he didn’t back out.
He also didn’t show up. So there is that, too.
So, I sit here on my park bench-slash-front-yard and write. Sans Bloody Mary.
And what goes through my mind?
A week ago the worst mass shooting in US history occurred in Orlando – and I’ve been writing/crying about it all week long. I can’t finish it. I also can’t banish the inappropriate thoughts of how us gays simply have to overdo everything. I know, too soon.
Today, I came out to the park against my better survival instincts.
Because I had to.
Dark thoughts be damned. The voice in my head can keep telling me that we’re Americans, competitive by misconstrued virtue. Attention whores by nurture. Yeah, the gays may have started that visible narcissism, but now I blame the Kardashians for bastardizing it and elevating it to the nosebleed level it has achieved today.
The voice in my head is telling me that some asshat would be likely to take advantage of that fresh and raw massacre of innocent lives to attack our Pride parade. Liberal Portland’s Pride parade.
What a message that would send.
One of Portland’s lesser known nicknames is Little Beirut, after all. We’re all for a great riot or demonstration. Why wouldn’t some whack job take advantage of that local environment to make a national level attention garnering statement by attempting to outdo Orlando?
The voice in my head can simply fuck off.
Today, I’m in the park watching the Parade kick off – wondering if it will start fashionably late – because of Harvey Milk.
Hope will never be silent.
It will be loud.
“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door. More people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other single reason. That, my friends, that is the true perversion.” – Harvey Milk
But, if it doesn’t come to that – here’s hoping – then I will be out enjoying the strength of our numbers, LBGT+ and allies alike. Enjoying the past version of me that I see running around, as I sit and watch with the perspective of age, knowing what we really do when we gather to celebrate Pride.
Crying when the Stand With Orlando float drifts by in silence, for sure. Not even bothering to blame it on allergies.
But I am a tad congested. Swearsies.
Here it comes…