Last weekend, I took my daughter to her first memorable Pride Parade (she was fairly small the last time she went to one). She stood for several hours in immeasurable heat and humidity so she could hoot and holler and wave her rainbow flag with the rest of them. The naked old guy with the many silver rings on his genitalia struck her as a little weird, but she was all gung-ho for the rest of it. Things got a little touchy, though, when we came up against the guy wearing a sandwich-board sign telling us we were all going to hell.
Just one guy this year; we missed the rest of them.
My daughter is all for free speech, and was determined to go give him her side of the argument, seeing as he had left us in no doubt about his. I wouldn’t let her: Pride functions have always made me a little nervous about violence. While I didn’t think the guy would hurt her (he was really big, though), I thought someone might try to hurt him and she would get in the way.
It surprised me that the police – you know the ones who arrested and/or allegedly assaulted people who walked too close to the G20 fence? – let this guy stand there. He very quickly attracted a large crowd of scantily-dressed and heavily-decorated adversaries, and things looked like they were getting heated (I say “looked like” because I was goose-stepping my daughter away from the area and couldn’t say for sure what happened). Either the cops were all in favour of natural selection, or they were entertaining themselves by watching one person’s beliefs get pitted against 1.2 million people’s pride. I suppose one must have a certain interest in violence if one goes into policing, but I don’t think you get to choose the people you want to protect, do you?
The local newspapers are still on about the G20 thing: who was right, who was wrong, and who is responsible. The answers seem to change daily. I don’t think they’ll ever be able to come to a reasonable conclusion because everyone part of a group mentality, and there are just too many groups to get a clear perspective. However, the logical point of view is that the G20 people had claimed that space to do their thing, and everyone else was interfering;
By the same standards, the LGBT et al. community had claimed that section of Toronto so they could do their thing, and the hell-fire guy was interfering. I think he knew it, too, ‘cause he didn’t have a bicycle with him but his helmet was snapped up snugly under his fuzzy chin: preventative measures, as it were.
I must confess that I sort of wanted to join the crowd that was milling around him. I had no desire to hurt him – just talk circles around him (which, I’ve found, on the rare occasion I decide to take the bait, is always fairly easy with people who are so busy telling me what someone else told them that they can’t tell me why what they’re telling me is right). I also wanted to see someone else get really angry and yell at him. I wanted him to feel the way some of the people at the parade feel every day of their lives.
It wouldn’t have done any good, I know. He was mentally and emotionally protected by dogma and doctrine, and would only have turned the other cheek while counting to 144 000. From where the guy was standing, he couldn’t see all the signs that said, “Acceptance”.
P.S. I learned something new at the Parade. Rick Mercer was sitting on top of a truck, spritzing the crowd with a monstrous watergun. The parade stopped for a few minutes (the vehicles kept overheating), so Mr. Mercer had a chance to tell someone in the crowd that he liked their t-shirt. Said shirt was immediately whipped off and thrown to him.
Sacrificial offerings. Rick Mercer is God.
P.P.S. We have a question: why is it that it’s alright for the male of the species to be shirtless and expose their nipples, but when a woman’s breasts are shown, it’s the nipples that are censored, not the actual breast?