Saturday, June 14, 2014

Feelings of Pride ~Sevan

This may be a little wandering...but I do hope you'll stick with me. I really want to get this down.

As a young queer, around the age of 20 I went to see a production of Laramie Project. If you haven't seen this show, it's about Matthew Shepard's life and death. At the end of the show is his funeral, and the angles and their huge wings are present at the funeral to make it so that the family of Matthew don't have to see the protesters who have shown up. This is the first time we see the angels, and the people who did that made a huge impact.

On the day that I went to see the show, life was....well, it wasn't good. So the show is forever etched into my memory intertwined with my personal horrible horrible day.

Fast forward to a few years ago. I saw protesters at PRIDE. Eh. No big deal. They didn't bother me. I rolled my eyes. Annoyed, frustrated by their presence...but eh.

Last year was my first year attending Pride within the role of youth worker. I work at a youth center for LGBTQ youth, and of course we attend Pride and march! There were more protesters than I'd ever seen before and the feeling changed entirely. Suddenly, I cared. Many of the youth I worked with were attending Pride for the first time. They were there to have a good time and be themselves. They handled themselves very well but I was scarred. You see, these haters planted themselves very strategically. They were the end of the parade route. You turn a corner and head forward for a few blocks and the whole time...there they are. Screaming, waving HUGE signs, on megaphones....and just HATEFUL. The community responded and chanted so loudly that you couldn't hear the hate. Drag queens led the chants and the hair on my arms stood up. While I wished the hate would never have happened...I was proud of my community and how we handled ourselves.

Fast forward to this year. I heard that there would be an angel brigade between the parade and the haters. The haters got their earlier than we would have liked and started their hate spewing LOUDLY and ferociously. They screamed at the youth I work with, saying horrible things like calling them fa***t, telling them that they make God cry, etc etc. My heart....oh my heart. This is an event I INVITE the youth I work with to many of them are having their first experience with Pride. As always, they handled themselves well, didn't engage with the haters and let the hate just roll off. In order to get from our booth to the spot we were to line up for the parade we had to walk by two groups of protesters. I started to think that maybe the angels weren't going to come after all.

 photo 10406663_10202288181153762_8624728822145664118_n_zpsa43f28d8.jpg
photo taken by Shar
We found our spot in the line up and waited for the parade to start. Then they came. The angles arrived.
I really wish I could fully express what it meant to me to see them. I don't know that I can, honestly. I teared up. I felt such relief. I felt a deep connection to something so personal and unique to the queer community. Our answer to protesters. Our way of doing things. From as far back as early 90's, this is what we've done.

While I was discouraged to still be able to see their signs as we marched, we couldn't see *them* nor could we hear them. The youth planned chants and were so loud they reverberated down the streets and BOOMED.

The rest of the day was lovely, filled with friends, acquaintances, smiles and fantastic performances. Thank you Spokane for being well behaved (except the haters...) friendly and putting on such a wonderful Pride.


Liz Moore said...

Yes. It was so powerful. I was getting tenser as we walked closer to where I knew they were waiting, but the crowd was so deep and the chants were so loud and unified and the parade-watchers were cheering so much that I felt re-assured and confident and so deep a sense of community that I felt like that would counter-balance the icky meanness of the gay-obsessed zealots.

Faye Maestas said...

Sevan, I am the Angel in the middle...I am a straight ally for the LGBTQ Community... .I want you too know how much your words and others who came up and hugged me, took pictures with me and thanked me means to was with great honor and pleasure that I stood there and blocked out the hateful and ugly people so that so many didn't have to see them or be confronted by them....I send you and the children you work with much love