I have always been a bit, well, too cool for the rainbow. You know, the big ole gay rainbow. I know, I know. I'm a bad, terrible excuse for a queer. It's fine, as far as symbols go. But as the queer daughter of lesbo moms, I've been to a lot of Pride Parades - and had a lot of rainbows in my life (in my house, on the family cars, on our porch, whathaveyou). So maybe I got a little sick of rainbows. Or maybe it was lingering teenage disdain. Or maybe it's because I've been spoiled enough to live in some pretty liberal, gay friendly places that I've taken my queerness, my identity, my right to take up public space, a little bit for granted.
But that was then. Things have changed. This year, we're going rainbow. Full-on rainbow. There is some serious rainbow accessorizing happening in our home. I'm making freaking t-shirts and souping up the kids' wagon with rainbow windmills and helium balloons. There may even be rainbow face paints.
So why the colour change of heart?
The first reason is, I no longer live in a liberal, lovey-dovey, free-to-be-you-and-me kinda place. I live, as you all know, in Redneckville. In fact, I live in one of the redneckiest ends of the city of Redneckville (This might have been information our gay real estate agent woulda shared with us, no?). I'd be lying if I said that this hasn't done a number on my sense of safety as a queer woman and as a queer parent. Oh sure, I've always been careful about when and where I let myself be visibly dykey (aka demonstrate any form of affection with my lover), no matter where I've lived. But here, I've never even considered walking down the street holding my wife's hand. It's a little sad-making. We're out. Our neighbours know we're gay - we're not hiding it. But we're not, you know, taking out a billboard either.
And then there's the little matter of the very public gay bashing that occured a few months ago here in my city, where a lesbian was very violently assaulted by a fourteen year old boy because she was a lesbian. It was ridiculously mishandled by our city's police (shock and surprise, I know) who did not even initally file the report, and then very nearly refused to handle to the case as a hate crime. And there were folks who couldn't understand why it was a hate crime. It was a hate crime because it was a crime directed at not just one person, but rather an entire group of people. Hate crimes are like acts of terrorism. They succeed precisely because they instill terror far beyond the physical victims of the initial crime. A gay bashing instills terror in the lives of all queers, and it certainly hasn't done anything to make me feel more, you know, all comfy-cozy-queer here.
The last, and to me the most pressing, reason for bringing on the rainbow love is that I now have children. Two wonderful, beautiful children who should be able to see their parents hold hands or share a smooch in public without having to see them look over their shoulders to see who is watching, and whether said watchers might pose a danger. Children who deserve to always feel as if their family is okay just the way it is.
But the reality of our lives is that they likely won't be allowed to feel this way always. Because their parents don't hold hands or smooch in public. And we do look have to look over our shoulders. We do pay attention to who's watching, and who might pose a danger if we are read as queer. We do have to continually respond to assumptions about the presence or absence of fathers and husbands.
So being able to have a day where we can just be ourselves, have a public cuddle, and enjoy the presence of our community is such a gift, and one I realize I've taken for granted. Our kids are too young right now to understand now how important the pride march is to our community, but I hope that when they're older, they'll be able to look back and appreciate that time and space to really celebrate who their parents are as a couple, and who we all are as a family.
Pride is also a chance for our kids to be immersed in open queer culture in all its drag queen-y, gender queer, dykes-on-bikes glory, and it's one that only comes along once or so a year. I want Boy-o and Girlio to be able to look at drag queens and trannies and big loud-mouthed dykes and flirty fairies and chosen queer families of all shapes and sizes, and feel at home. I want them to know that this is their community and know that it is fucking amazing and beautiful.
So me and my family, we'll be at the pride march this Sunday, gayin' it up in all our be-rainbowed glory. And we'll be loving every in-your-face, hand-holding, smooch-in-public, unafraid, pride-y moment. Because we can.