Thirty-nine years ago police raided a gay bar in Greenwich Village in New York City sparking a riot that is commemorated each year in Pride parades throughout the US. In the years since that riot and the first Pride parade, the purpose and tenor of the parade has changed.
We didn't stay long at the first Pride event we attended taking just a small amount of time to wander before heading off. Pride became a regular part of our lives during our active membership in GLOW (Gays and Lesbians of Watertown), a neighborhood social group. Most of the the years I sat at GLOW's table at the festival passing out information. Through GLOW I got involved with the Boston Pride Committee.
When I was a member of Boston's Pride Committee in the late 80s and early 90s, being gay or lesbian meant there was always the possibility of losing a job, friends, family and even your life. And the chants and speeches of the Pride parade and festival reflected that. Pride was the one time when it felt safe to be completely out. This was also a time when AIDS was at the front of the minds of many in the LGBT community and that was also reflected in the Pride events.
It has been years since I regularly attended the Pride parade and festival. We attended one or two Pride festivals after I left the committee, but other aspects of life have taken priority most years. I went to Pride on Saturday and did something I have never done before - I marched in the parade from start to finish. In all my previous years of involvement I have always been at the festival site, and only occasionally joined GLOW or the Pride Committee for the last couple of blocks.
What drew me to march this year is a group of people who have become an important part of my life since January. The story begins about 5 years ago. At that time I attended Meeting for Worship (Quaker) with my sister-out-law (the fabulous Shelley) at Princeton Friends Meeting. On each visit since then I have attended Meeting. At first it felt strange to sit in silence in a room full of people. But over the years it has become a treasured part of my visits. I thought about going to the Meeting closest to my house a number of times. Shyness and the need to be up and out early on Sunday morning kept me away. This January I took a class at the North Bennett Street School in Boston which required me to be up and out of the house before 7am for 5 Saturdays. Being the creature of habit that I am, it also meant that I was up and ready to be moving early on Sunday mornings.
So that first Sunday of January I went to Worship at Wellesley Friends Meeting. What I have found there is a welcoming community. I knew a couple of the members before, they sing in the Broadmoor Chamber Singers with Amy. When I first walked through the doors I wasn't sure if I was going to become a regular attender, but I have. Meeting has become a regular part of my week, and the people are becoming not just Friends but also friends.
Which brings me back to Saturday when I joined 13 other people from the Meeting to march in the Pride parade. There was a party atmosphere at the start. There were balloons and beads and lots of smiles. We took lots of pictures as we waited for the parade to start. The only politics evident were the political candidates working the crowd, and the Obama supporters just ahead of us in line.
We walked through the streets of Boston to the cheers of the crowd, though at least a few of those were for the free t-shirts being tossed from the motorized trolley in front of us. There were familiar faces in the crowd, and lots of smiles. I did okay until the pace picked up as we headed up Beacon Hill toward the State House. At that point I had to drop back, rest a moment and catch my breath before continuing on. I did finish the march – mostly by myself as a major gap had developed – and connected with the rest of our group on City Hall Plaza before heading home.
And now some twenty years after I attended my first Pride event, I can finally say that I have marched in the Pride parade.
As my neighbors will no doubt tell you, I am a bad gardener. My lawn is mostly weeds, the bushes are in need of trimming and there are still fall leaves scattered about. The one bright spot is the perennial garden. Situated in the sunny spot where our driveway curves down to the garage the perennial garden is thriving. At the moment it is a study in purple and green with a splash of pink. Soon yellow will join the mix. When I went out to take pictures of it today I discovered that one of the lupin, which I thought had all died, has survived, though I don't have pictures of it.
Another element on which I am a terrible gardener is that I don't have a good chart of my garden and can't remember what a couple of the plants in it are called.
Looking across the lavender, which is starting to think about blooming.
Purple flower (the name escapes me).
Another one I don't remember the name of.
This pale weed is growing at the edge of the garden.