By Ernie McCray
I will forever remember “The San Diego Pride Parade of 2015,” not just because of it’s history, but for the rain. And I’m talking some serious rain. I mean Mother Nature just flat out let it all hang out.
And there I was, along with hundreds of other waterlogged folks in every kind of colorful regalia known to man, standing and walking and practically treading in that downfall for a good three hours or so. Soaked to the skin and bones!
When my group got the go ahead to march in the puddles and streams and through a “mini-lake” just around the corner, a man said over a microphone “It’s raining on our parade and we’re loving it.”
It took me a few moments to fall in line with how he was feeling because I, at the time, was wishing that I was an amphibian, as water was running off me like I was a character in a Water Park Show.
But I just let go and went with the spirit of this historic Pride Parade, the first one where, anywhere in the USA:
Adam could marry Eve
or he could marry Steve;
Marie could marry Steve
or she could marry Louise;
Anyone can, literally,
marry whomever they please;
no animals allowed in this little treatise
if you please.
What a good time was had by all, as we sang in the rain and danced in the rain and let the rain, symbolically, wash away vestiges of the old days when:
Gay leaders were called “Gay Nazis” on the radio; way too many gay students were bullied at school, a practice that continues today; a school superintendent, deemed as a “reformer,” brought to an end a program that was well on its way to making the school system “gay-friendly”; we supported the Boy Scouts of America, who made homophobia seem okay; we embraced “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” while, at the same time, claiming that we were a society that doesn’t discriminate, that we were equal, all the same – that’s nothing but hyprocisy and shame…
But on this glorious day out there in the falling rain, wringing wet, no matter what creeds and affiliations and inclinations we as individuals claimed, no matter whether we were straight or gay or lesbian or bi-sexual or transgendered or questioning – we were reduced to who we basically are: human beings. Very wet ones, at that.
There were moments when so much rain fell in my eyes that I could barely see, and what I saw seemed like hallucinations, which makes sense, considering that having rain fall on you for hours is, in itself, hallucinatory.
In such an illusionary state I pictured myself sitting in my den all dry and comfy, with my woman at my side, and a manhattan, in my hand, looking at TV going “Look at all those crazy-ass people marching in the rain!” Hey, at the moment, I was trying to strut in about a foot of water somewhere on or near Vermont Street – and I just couldn’t help but take a little teeny tiny moment from “enjoying myself.”
The next visual I entertained in my mind made me smile: It was of two larger-than-life heroes of mine, two major characters in American History, Harvey Milk and Bayard Rustin. They rose up in my imagination off those saturated streets like the heat waves one sees rising off a burning desert street on the hottest of summer days (thoughts of dryness, I’m now admitting, was in my mind the whole day).
Through the haze, I could see Harvey’s bright smile, the one that captivated us from the start when he showed the world what coming out was all about, stepping out into politics, fully as himself, a proud gay man – a visionary who imagined a righteous and hopeful world where all people feel they belong.
I could see Bayard, that masterful organizer behind the scenes back when Martin shared “I Have a Dream,” looking on at some of the strides made in civil and human rights, with great satisfaction. He could live in today’s world without being arrested for his sexuality like he had been back in 1953.
As I thought of these great men, I began to feel, spiritually, that the rain was in their honor, letting them know, somehow, via the cosmos, that they didn’t die in vain, that there are still active pursuits of human understanding, that their dreams of all people being accepted and embraced in the world is slowly becoming realized.
They were long ago catalysts for the kind of thinking that would make a Supreme Court bring about “marriage equality.”
It’s taken many years for such loving respect for all of humanity to become a reality.
And that’s pretty much what we were celebrating in this year’s Pride Parade: beautiful history being made. I will cherish this day for as long as I shall live.
May the rains of progress continue to fall.
Photo courtesy of San Diego Pride