Reflections on PRIDE! (Dennis Blake)
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend Louisville’s PRIDE FESTIVAL…my third…as I have only been active in the LGBTQ community for about 4 years. The festival began with the parade on Friday evening. My church, Douglass Blvd. Christian Church, has participated for several years now. I experienced real joy as I marched alongside some of our gay and straight members, carrying our banner of support. I have been involved in church music ministry for 50 years, and experience real joy at being part of a faith community which welcomes and affirms ALL people gathering to worship and fellowship, regardless of gender, age, color, creed or sexual orientation. It brought sheer joy to my heart to witness the smiles of people watching, knowing that many of them were not members of the LGBTQ community, but there to support it. On Saturday, I volunteered, along with some other church members, at our booth…passing out information about DBCC, and engaging in conversation with those who stopped by. I felt great joy in my heart as I heard person after person express thanks that we (representatives of the church) were there with our support. (And lest I forget, there were other churches there as well. Hopefully, next year, there will be even more.)
The balance of the afternoon was spent walking around the festival, meeting old friends, making new ones, and taking in all that the festival had to offer. While there, I could not help but notice the others who had come. As I walked, I saw outfits of every color of the rainbow. People in long pants, short pants, underpants, t-shirts, no shirts, crazy hats, crazy hair, nipple rings, ear gauges, tattoos, lip rings… you name it and it was there. I heard some comments about how the news media only seemed to film and photograph the ones who dressed and behaved in such outlandish manner. I was asked, “Is that the message that we want delivered to the larger Louisville community about the LGBT population?” What about those who choose to be less conspicuous about their “gayness”? After all, the LGBT community contains not only those who blatantly flaunt their homosexuality, but those who dress and act in a more conservative manner. The fact is: we are lawyers, doctors, teachers, servers, sanitation engineers, accountants, students, real estate brokers, managers, construction workers, nurses, bartenders, etc. I would daresay that those in the “straight” Louisville population cannot go anywhere in the area without some contact with a member of the LGBTQ community, and may not even realize it. Some of us are noticed, while others are well-hidden. We are black, white, Asian, Indian, and of mixed descent. We are teenagers, baby boomers, and members of the X and Y generations. Are you getting my point? We represent DIVERSITY, within our own LBGT community.