Oh, don’t worry. I don’t mean that kind of emergency. I didn’t go to the hospital, I went to Pride, remember? On our way downtown, we met a lovely transgendered dog, adorned in both a rainbow tie and crinoline skirt, whose brother accepts her as she is, according to her owners. Our lame rainbow beads paled in comparison to her outfit. At the parade, we cheered and clapped loud and proud.
There’s something about watching the parade amongst gay and straight people who have never been to Pride before. We saw our male-couple friends with their hesitant but curious children. Another friend came down with her 16-year-old daughter, whom we’ll dub Open-Minded Teen, and her buddy.
It was a good year for swag. J. assumed responsibility for gathering all sorts of freebies from the marchers, and then giving everything away to everyone around her. Somehow she conned a parade participant into giving up her boa, possibly because the boa wearer was concerned J. would get run over by the parade vehicle she was riding in.
One of the “party favours” was condoms, which are not much use to lesbians, so we handed ours to those who might need them more. O-M T passed hers to her mother, whom she obviously felt might need birth control more (or sooner?) than her.
There were brave marchers, some overwhelmed with emotion, from all over. We saw a transgendered woman leading a large contingent from her company, for example, and tons of teens. Calgary Transit workers participated for the first time, and the driver who commandeered the Rainbow Bus looked like he was in his element. You can imagine the warm reception that group received after the homophobic-driver controversy.
An LGBTQ teachers’ group also marched in large numbers. One of the teachers spotted O-M T, whom she knows from school, and came over to give her a hug. O-M T hugged back while looking wide eyed at her mom, as if to say: “I had no idea.”
And yes, I cried. I had used up my kleenex supply early in the parade when first responders marched in succession. Police, fire, ambulance, army, RCMP, enough already! I was a blubbering idiot. These folks’ support and acceptance–and, for some, an open acknowledgement of being part–of our community touches my heart. Police always choke me up the most, so a lovely marching female police officer approached to ask me if I was okay. I thanked her for participating, and she gave me a big hug. Maybe she came over because she thought I was cute–just kidding, “cute” and “cancer” are rarely used in the same sentence–but really I think she approached out of kindness.
I’d say it was our best Pride yet. It was touching to be there, to see how widely supported the event was, to feel the kinship all around us–watching the parade with friends is like our very own Gay-Straight Allliance for a day–and, of course, to get a warm hug from a woman in uniform. Any woman looks great in a uniform. J. would most certainly agree.