Kentuckiana Pride 2014

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Last night was the Kentucky Pride Parade. Three hours before the event huge storms moved through the area, dumping a torrent of rain. Afterward it was overcast, threatening a repeat performance. As I headed downtown, equipped with a baseball cap, disposable rain poncho and umbrella, I wondered if other people would not show up because of the threat of rain, and I remembered the anti-KKK rally I attended here many years ago. It rained then, too, a steady downpour that lasted all through the event. The temperatures were frigid that day, and by the end of the rally I was soaked to the bone, shivering inside the McDonald’s at Broadway and Second, waiting for my ride to pick me up and certain that I was going to come down with pneumonia.

I did not.

Naturally, yesterday I wanted to park my car near the end of the parade route, conveniently the steps of the Kentucky Center for the Arts. I was running early (the parade wasn’t set to start until 8pm) so I circled the area, hoping for a metered space, then gave up and headed for a garage. The KCA garage was charging $7 for event parking, so I pulled in to the Muhammad Ali Center garage right across the street, because they only wanted $5. I figured everyone else would do the same, but when I got into the garage I found that there were only two other cars there. But I was early. I figured there would be plenty of other parade goers heading back the same way afterward. (Downtown garages are the scene of occasional attacks on women, a fact the city downplays but people who work downtown—as I did for 19 years—are warned about regularly.)

Walking through the garage in my black tee with big, bold lettering in white (FAIRNESS: No more. No less. ) and rainbow beads from Saints and Sinners 2013 was a little intimidating. I wondered what the two people working the Ali Center’s ticket booth thought of the Pride Parade.The nearest exit, though, turned out to be nowhere near the ticket booth.

As I expected there were no pedestrians and no cars on Sixth, which runs beside the KCA. As soon as I turned the corner, of course, there were tons of people awash in rainbow gear. I started walking the parade route in reverse, making my way to the meetup point for those of us walking with the Fairness Campaign, which I always do. If you read last year’s blog entry (aptly titled “Kentuckiana Pride Parade 2013”) you will know that this was not my first rodeo. What I didn’t share then was this photo of what actually was:
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Actually, I’m not totally sure that was my first Pride March. I seriously doubt that I brought a camera the first time. But it could be. Moxie, chutzpah, cajones, call it what you will, I got a pretty good dose of it. Still, that photo was taken a really, really long time ago.

For two blocks yesterday I was just another face in the rainbow clad throng. Then the crowd thinned, and thinned again. By Third Street I was alone. Crossing Main heading for Market, I was alone. For three or four blocks it was just me and the passing cars, before I caught up to some other parade goers who’d come from a different direction.

I’ll admit, for those few blocks I was nervous. What were the drivers thinking? Would they say something to me?  Do something? There could have been violence. It happened the other day at another Pride rally somewhere. I contemplated what it would be like to feel that way all the time. It would take a whole other level of moxie to survive that.

The check-in table for Fairness was not where it was last year. In fact, it wasn’t anywhere. I walked around the densely-packed parking lot where it was supposed to be; I walked over to the much larger parking lot next door where the parade goers were assembling and found the Fairness crew (easy to do because many were sporting the balloon backpacks Fairness has made their trademark for the parade). I asked a woman who looked like she knew such things, and was sent back over to the original parking lot.

Unsurprisingly, the check-in booth had not spontaneously materialized. It did occur to me that perhaps, because of the earlier downpour, they had chosen to set up inside the gay bar next door, so I followed the mixed-gender crowd shuffling in there. It was hard to see anything at all but I was reasonably sure that there was no Fairness table there, so I headed back out. On my way I asked the bouncer, who thought it was right outside, and was surprised when he looked out and saw that it was gone.

Outside, I asked another woman who looked like she was probably on top of things, and who was also wearing a balloon backpack, and she said they’d packed up early and headed over to the staging area. It wasn’t even half hour at that point. I headed back over.

Now, where do you choose to stand in a sea of squiggly balloons, when you don’t know anyone? I wandered around, hoping I’d see a familiar face. There wasn’t one that I saw but there was a light pole, and I decided that was a decent hangout. If nothing else, the balloon-wearing folk steered clear of it, and they are a bit hard to contend with. So I planted myself by the light pole and took out my phone to post an “I am here” notice to social media.

Several guys were hanging around the light pole as well. One of them turned around, saw me, exclaimed, “Thank you for being here again!” and gave me a hug. It was Chris Hartman, the director of the Fairness Campaign. You could have knocked me over with a feather at that point. I mean, it’s true that back in October I did craft a broom for Fairness as a favor to a friend who is a pagan and wanted to present a gift to Fairness on behalf of LGBT pagans, and that broom now hangs in the Fairness office, something I know from having seen pictures of it on Facebook. And it’s also true that when last year’s march ended I was standing in the perfect spot when they announced they wanted to take a group picture, so I accidentally ended up in the forefront of the shot. I was also the only one wearing the old black and white Fairness tee, too, so I kind of stand out. It wasn’t planned, honestly. I had no idea they were even going to take a picture. I was standing there wondering how on earth I was going to find a friend who’d marched with Third Lutheran Church. But, still. I didn’t expect him to recognize me. Color me flabbergasted.

BTW, I still call it a march. It’s a holdover from the old March for Justice. I think it goes better with the only chant that ever sticks during these things: “What do we want? FAIRNESS! When do we want it? NOW!”

So Chris gave me a hug, and one of the other guys handed me a card on which several chants including the one mentioned above were listed. I looked at Chris and said “No kazoos this year?” because last year they handed out kazoos and tried to get everyone to learn a tune. Turned out people needed remedial kazoo operating lessons. Now, I can’t carry a tune to save my life, but I worked in Theatre for Young Audiences for nearly twenty years; I can operate a kazoo. Still, the kazoo plan was dropped about five minutes into the endeavor, and when I mentioned it Chris arched a brow and said “We’re not going to talk about the kazoo incident.” So it was good.

The march itself went by very fast, and I didn’t process much that was happening during it. I always get very caught up belting out the message, so much so that I was getting hoarse by the end. I will say that “LGBT, we demand equality!” and “Racism, sexism, we say no! Ho-mo-pho-bia’s got to go!” were getting more traction by the end. At first no one seemed comfortable enough speaking those ones to really get behind them. The one that was basically “Yes we can!” in Spanish was a complete wash.

There was a really good crowd of onlookers around the Connection nightclub complex again, just like last year, but this time there wasn’t as much of a dearth of spectators between there and Main Street. There also seemed to be a lot more families in attendance. There were lots of older people and little kids cheering from the sidelines, which was really nice. And of course, I got emotional passing by Actors Theatre and the Humana building further down Main (not the iconic one at Sixth and Main), because my grandfather worked as an architect on that structure, which was originally the headquarters of Belknap Hardware.

All too soon we were at the steps of the KCA, assembling for the picture. I purposefully moved toward the back of the damned crowd, and was standing minding my own business when one of the megaphone-wielders came over and stood right beside me. I haven’t seen this year’s photo, but no doubt I am smack dab in the center of it, again in my old-school Fairness tee. Not my intention if it’s so.

Just like last year, that classic Fairness tee got several appreciative shout-outs from people. It’s the reason why it was with a little misgiving that today at the Pride Festival I plunked down a $20 donation to Fairness and picked out one of the tees with the new logo. Purple, of course. I’m not saying I’ll wear that one in next year’s march, mind you. Why mess with success?

After the parade people made their way en mass to The Belvedere, a public space overlooking the Ohio River. Lemming like, I followed, curious to see what was going on, despite my trepidation about being alone when I headed back to my car, and whether I would still be the only one parked in the Ali Center garage. As it turned out, about half of the booths up on the Belvedere were partially set-up and manned, with representatives of the various organizations passing out swag. I walked around looking for Third Lutheran Church, to say hi to the friends of my friend (who was out of town on business this year).

I didn’t find them, and got nervous about walking back to my car, so I left. At the entrance to the event there was a scaremongering preacher with a bullhorn trying to get a rise out of the crowd. I’d seen maybe six different churches represented in the parade; I decided I was not going to go over and try to engage this guy. There’s a purported Polish proverb going around Facebook right now that sort of summed up my feelings: Not my circus. Not my monkeys.

There was hardly anyone left on Main, and still no one at all on Sixth. Worse, the two attendants were gone from the Ali Center garage. There was no one in sight anywhere and the sky was just beginning to go to dusk. I thought about what I would do if I was confronted by someone, and those thoughts took a decidedly homophobic cast. I thought about taking off my beads. It seemed another good analogy, the fact that I can take off my beads, change my shirt, and melt back into hetero-normative anonymity. I left my beads on.

A car entered the garage as I reached the stairs. The windows were tinted. I have no idea what the driver looked like, or how many people were in the car. I’d parked my car right by the bottom of the staircase, so I hurried down it. Right before I turned the corner I heard two voices, male, and from the cadence of them in all likelihood not interested in harassing me. The fact that they turned out to look like they were no strangers to the gym was also a huge relief. I made a beeline for my car and got out of there. For the record there were only about six cars in the garage when I left. What’s up with that?

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So that, in a nutshell, is my Kentuckiana Pride Parade 2014 experience. It turns out that Third Lutheran’s Stephen Renner, one of the persons I was looking for up on the Belvedere, was stationed beside the fire-and-brimstone preacher providing counterpoint to his arguments. Good for him.

I’m happy to report that local news station WDRB, which has an hour-long broadcast and last year gave the parade what I termed “30 secs of dour-faced airtime in which they reported the facts”, this year had a whopping 1 minute and 45 seconds of enthusiastic coverage. WHAS, though, still gave it barely a mention. After 25 seconds about the locally-headquartered Presbyterian Church’s decision to begin allowing same-sex marriages, and the news that Louisville mayor Greg Fischer joined Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, there was this five second long mention of the parade: “Kentucky’s Pride month festivities began with a parade in downtown Louisville.” To be fair they also did a web-only piece about the Fairness Campaign interns constructing the balloon backpacks. What I said last year about the whole issue of media coverage, though, still stands. Most of the spectators had cameras out. Photos and footage of the event started going out via the net immediately, and every one of those connections comes with a face attached. A personal endorsement, if you will. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in marketing terms, isn’t that gold? Like last year, it makes me think of Harvey Milk encouraging people to come out, and that reminds me that the other day I was at the post office, mailing a copy of Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction (Cleis Press) to the lucky blog reader who won it as the Hop Against Homophobia giveaway, and I asked if they had any Harvey Milk stamps. The teller said, “Yes, we do. They’ve been very popular.” He opened the drawer and took the sheet right off the top.

It gives me hope.

 

Short Stories 365/85

“Only Lost Boys are Found” by Steve Berman from Red Caps: New Fairy Tales for Out of the Ordinary Readers (Lethe Press, 2014).

This is the perfect finale for this collection because it encompasses all that precedes it. It’s sweet, a little scary, very trippy, and hopeful. It’s surprisingly funny, too, strewn with land mines of teenage sarcasm.

The world of the story unfolds as a series of closets as the out protagonist searches for his not-so-out neighbor/boyfriend. Sometimes the closet analogy works better than others, but overall it’s an interesting device. And like I said, this story gets trippy. Just as with the one that opened the collection, all the reader can do is hang on and see where it goes, safe in the knowledge that it will be somewhere interesting.

The kinship between this story and the It Gets Better Project is obvious. Not surprisingly, this piece was originally included in Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up (Bold Strokes Books, 2011), edited by the author. It’s written in second-person, which breaks the “fourth wall” (to steal a theatre reference) and blatantly pulls the reader into the narrative. It’s a fantastic choice. I love the idea of the author all but stepping off the page, pointing right at the queer kid reading the story (the intended audience for both books) and saying, “In case you somehow didn’t get it before now, I wrote this for you.”

I especially liked the exposition and dialogue right at the end. Very nice.

 

Short Stories 365/72

“Symposium” by Andrew Holleran from Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction (Cleis Press, 2014).

It’s Sunday night and the symposium on the past, present and future of gay fiction which drew the main character to Fort Lauderdale is in the process of winding down. Thirty minutes after the cake is served he’s back in his room and feeling restless, a little lonely, and inclined to contemplate What It All Means.

As are we all, who are nearing this volume’s close.

He answers a distress call from another of the panelists, a man who has been his friend and colleague for decades and who cannot get the DVD player in his room to operate. It introduces a little levity to the story while still allowing for the discussion about the state of gay literature to continue. The same thing happens when they wander down to the hot tub and meet up with several other characters, who are, obviously, representative of the various players in this field.

No redacted bits in this selection. Still, what I wouldn’t give for a Rosetta Stone right about now…

Several concepts are introduced by this story. The first is a lamentation that television and movies have killed gay literature. I can’t imagine why that would be any truer for gay literature than for the hetero variety. Yes, not enough people read.

The second is that it’s specifically the young who are not reading, and that is what’s killing gay literature. How then to account for many of the other writers in this volume, and in Best Gay Romance 2014, also published by Cleis Press this month, and many other anthologies and stand alone books?

A third is that digital books are killing gay literature. I happen to have read this volume via the Kobo app on my phone, but almost everything else I’ve read for the past year and a half has been downloaded to my Kindle. As much as I love physical books, I embrace any medium that gets ideas out of a writer’s head and into mine, be it cuneiform or papyrus, paper or pixels.

Finally, the sentiment is held by the characters in this story that nobody cares whether or not there’s such a thing as a “gay sensibility”.  Oh, really? During Lewis DeSimone’s story “Quality Time” in Best Gay Romance 2014 (Short Stories 365/47), there’s this exchange between the main character and his partner over whether or not the partner’s six year old daughter should be told the true nature of their relationship:

“I’m not ashamed. I just don’t define myself by who I sleep with.”

“Who you sleep with? That’s what it’s all about—who you fuck?”

“Greg.” He’s gritting his teeth.

“No, Victor. Don’t bother. If sex is the only thing that makes you gay, then you have nothing to worry about. You’re welcome to be as hetero as you want.”

Symposium, anyone?

On the Anniversay of Freddie’s Death.

I’d been telling the story the same way for so long that I’d forgotten it wasn’t accurate.

My friend had just texted to say she was taking her daughter to see her first concert that night, and couldn’t help but think back to the concerts we went to as kids, the earliest of which were chaperoned by my mother.

The words “first concert” set me off; I was eager to once again entertain with my own first-concert tale. Surely you remember, I wrote back, thumbing every letter, building the text in complete sentences, telltale sign of the middle-aged, that the first time Billy Squier came through Chicago was as the opening act for Pat Benatar, and my mother said “You’re too young to go to a concert.” Six months later he came back with Queen, and she said “Let’s Go!”

I waited until the blinking cursor was replaced by the message that she was typing. Finally, the reply came.

I didn’t, actually. That’s great, she wrote. Concerts now are very different. Very corporate. No beer and pot.

I remembered that the performer they were going to see was the Disney-created Selena Gomez, star of some recent T.V. program aimed at the after-school set. How long ago had that show ended? I wondered. Was she still a shill, or was she now trying to break free, to redefine herself a la Britney and Christina and Lindsay Lohan?

That’s when it hit me that the Billy Squier/Queen show that kicked off a string of honest-to-god rock performances we attended over the four years of my high school career was not my first concert after all, as I’d been telling everyone for nearly thirty years. The first show – correction, shows – was actually a pair of concerts by The Osmonds, back-to-back annual appearances at the Illinois State Fair when I was eight and nine years old, respectively.

I was madly in love with Donny, who was an addendum to his brothers’ show and career, but the only one onstage as far as I was concerned. He was almost the baby of his family but a decade older than me. To my mind his brothers were ancient, practically my parents’ contemporaries, though in truth my parents were intellectuals who married late, became parents late. My mother was 32 when I was born, my father 37, common now but nearly unheard of back then. Borderline scandalous.

Well, it’s not exactly Deep Purple you’re going to see, I texted back, inwardly still grappling with the fact of having inadvertently re-written my own history.

I hadn’t exactly forgotten Donny’s shows, but over the years I’d relegated them to a different memory box than the one I’d labeled “concerts.”

Whenever his name came up – brief career resurgences in each of the decades that followed his initial popularity – I was always grateful, and more than a little amazed, to have been as spoiled as I was. Two family vacations were spent three hundred miles from home at the State Fair so that I could swoon over a Mormon boy in a white bell-bottomed pantsuit. To give you an idea of how out of character this was, nine of our summer vacations after that were spent up in Ontario, Canada, always first at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and then on to Toronto (save one year where after Stratford we visited Quebec and Montreal and then drove down the eastern seaboard to Boston and New York); another was spent in Washington, D.C.; and two were spent in L.A.

This is why I think I put Donny in the “early crush” category and not in “concerts”: the same year we first travelled downstate to see The Osmonds another personality was hitting the airwaves, an actor by the name of Michael Kearns. He was playing a part, though no one knew it at the time, portraying a hustler-turned-writer promoting his memoir The Happy Hustler. In reality the volume was fiction penned by a friend of his, Thom Racina, and was meant to capitalize on the success of Xaviera Hollander’s The Happy Hooker.

Michael was making the rounds of the same talk shows Donny was, the guest of Tom Snyder and Chicago’s own Phil Donahue. This was before VCRs; my mother taped (or “time-shifted” in the parlance of the day) the soundtracks of Donny’s appearances on cassette and played them for me when I got home from school.

Spoiled rotten to the core.

It’s all mixed up in my mind now, because I got it secondhand and also filtered through my mother’s uber-dramatic lens, plus I was a kid with my own dramas to focus on, but apparently when the story broke that the whole Happy Hustler business was made up and in reality Michael was just an actor, there was a desire to know who he was and why he did it. He explained he was an actor, classically trained at The Goodman School in Chicago.

My mother was also a graduate of the Goodman. She penned a letter to Michael in which she explained that she’d been wondering who he reminded her of, and she’d just figured it out. You remind me, she wrote, of me.

She didn’t expect a reply but got one, in which he urged her to write again. She discounted it as a publicist-generated nicety and put it aside.

I’m fuzzy on exactly what happened next, how long it took for the friendship to progress. At some point she finally did write again, and he replied a second time, something to the effect of “I asked you to write back before. Why didn’t you listen?” Thus began a friendship of many years, to which I, despite my age, was privy. She read me her letters to him before she sent them, and his replies. Eventually they started talking on the phone, and many times she’d tell me that she was expecting a call, or was about to call him, so naturally I would hover just beyond the kitchen doorway, attempting to decipher from her responses what he was saying. Afterward, listening to her accounting of the call, I’d try to spot details that didn’t mesh with what I’d just heard, but there were never discrepancies as far as I could tell. She wasn’t one to pull punches and I was going to hear the next round of letters anyway, wasn’t I?

Michael had a rough go of things in those years. Deceiving the public turned out to be not a great way to advance a budding career, and being the first out Hollywood actor was a worse one. And of course there was too much booze and too many drugs and sex everywhere with which one could become distracted.

My mother was a good counselor. During high school and even afterward, when I was away at college and then starting my career, my friends would call the house to talk to her because she was smart, and fearless, and never sugar-coated anything. Michael would call and my mother would give him her honest opinion of whatever he described, work he was thinking of taking or someone with whom he’d gotten involved. They talked about acting, about the teachers they’d had at Goodman, and what they’d learned from them. Before The Happy Hustler he’d been just starting to break in to Hollywood. He’d been on The Waltons, and years later he would make further inroads, landing parts on Cheers and in Body Double and on and on and on. In between was a sine wave, some serious downs but also some notable ups, like being cast in a production of Jean Genet’s The Maids, and starting to write autobiographical plays. We took our first family vacation to L.A. to attend his one-man show The Truth is Bad Enough. Those things, he and my mother agreed, were ones to really be proud of. They weren’t just work; they were Art.

I think I re-wrote what was my “first concert” in the catalog of my memory because the Billy Squier/Queen show was a first concert, of sorts. It was the first following the end of my childlike innocence, marked by my mother becoming friends with Michael and deciding to tell me the truth about his situation. Because of that, a teenaged teen idol doing covers of pop songs from the 1950s and 1960s, singing about the pain of unrequited feelings (“They call it Puppy Love”) just didn’t have the gravitas needed to be the first-ever concert. That experience got downgraded as not real, a remnant from a time of Santa Claus and dollhouses. But pining away for someone who not only didn’t return your feelings but could ruin your entire life by exposing your truth (“There are many ways that you can hurt a man, and bring him to the ground; you can beat him, you can cheat him, you can treat him bad, and leave him when he’s down”) performed by a band whose name was a cheeky double-entendre and was fronted by a man who switched gender pronouns verse-to-verse and steadfastly refused to talk about his personal life, despite the fact that everyone felt they already knew his secret(s)? That concert had the requisite pathos to be the first (real) one I ever saw.

And let’s not forget that the man I was madly in love with at that concert had – at that point, anyway – used nothing but genderless pronouns in his songwriting, a fact that was not lost on me for a nanosecond. I thought Billy Squier was hot and, rightly or wrongly, I also believed he could never return that feeling. And that was okay.

That’s my story and, this time, I’m sticking to it. As for Michael’s story, if you want to know more, he released an autobiography last year called (what else?) The Truth Is Bad Enough: Whatever Became of The Happy Hustler?   

A little publicity

Image

A little publicity

Cover of the latest issue of the quarterly company newsletter.

Be the Change. Always the goal.

Kentuckiana Pride Parade 2013

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It’s the morning after the Kentuckiana Pride Parade and, as usual, I am left pondering a Zen koan:

If a tree falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, does it really make a sound?

We have four local television stations. The one with the hour-long telecast that comes on at 10pm gave last night’s parade thirty seconds of dour-faced airtime in which they related the facts – there was a parade downtown, it had a theme (United in Love), some people showed up.

The second station, with only a thirty minute broadcast, gave it fifteen smiling seconds.

I believe the third didn’t cover it at all. I can only watch so many stations at once. I know there was nothing in the three hours of re-broadcast news they aired this morning, because I DVR’d and scanned through all three hours.

I’m not sure if the last did, but I’m betting against it because while they do have coverage of it on their website it’s static coverage, not video. It’s essentially a short newspaper article capped by a color photo.  It is, however, the most flattering coverage of all the major news outlets, noting that thousands, not hundreds, of people were in attendance, and quoting several of the participants.

In an odd twist, the Courier-Journal newspaper has video coverage on their site. It’s actually a really nice representation of what the parade/march was like, but the clip is edited to end with an image of the only float I’m aware of with that classic Pride feature: cage dancers. Because of the editing, that’s the image you see when you click to read the headline, and if you don’t play the video, that’s the only image you get outside of the more generic one back out on the main page. Interesting. They also ran the headline, Hundreds turn out for Kentuckiana Pride Parade. Hmm.

This sort of one note, scant coverage – don’t blink or you’ll miss it – always frustrates me. When I first started marching the event took place on Saturday morning. Downtown Louisville was a ghost town on weekends back then, and pretty much still is, especially in the mornings. There were a hundred, maybe a couple hundred, participants and no one to view the thing. So we would march down empty streets, shouting, then have a festival in Central Park, and at night none of the stations would cover it.

Though this isn’t my first rodeo or even my fifth, it is the first year in quite some time that I have marched. First, events in my own life got in the way. I’d been going strong, never missing a year, and then came the year we were set to move into our new house on the weekend of Pride. Let’s just say my proposal that I spend the majority of one of the days marching for social justice instead of schlepping boxes on and off a U-Haul did not go over well.

We did manage to get up to Chicago for Pride that year, though that turned out to be a mixed blessing. We stood on the sidewalk outside the 7-Eleven watching as the firefighters and police and floats by major companies went by, and it actually made me more depressed about the marches back home. Compared to Chicago, Louisville’s Pride seemed to be happening in a vacuum. Sure, we marched, but we were alone.

Shortly after this there was a power struggle among some of the groups here and the march was moved to Friday evening. The rallying point changed, too; it became a bar not a public space. Looking back, I think it was a misperception
on my part, but I felt uninvited. I wasn’t the only one. The friend I would always meet up with at the event and march with took it the same way. Because of it, I began simply attending the festival on the Belvedere on Saturdays. I’ve been pleased to see the attendance at that grow, and the expansion of the number and type of organizations represented, but I felt very distanced from it.

This year, everything’s different. I just got back from the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New   Orleans. A story I wrote was just published in their annual anthology. I read a selection from my work at the book launch party and got a lot of nice feedback. I made many new friends, got re-acquainted with an old one, and felt extremely welcome throughout.

And then, last week on Facebook, a call went out from the Fairness Campaign: We need people to walk with us.  So I put on my Fairness tee and I marched. One of the first things I noticed was that the chant has changed. Now in between “What do we want? (Fairness!)” and “When do we want it? (Now!)” there is “Where do we want it? (Kentucky!)” I’m not sure I like that change. First of all, it’s the Kentuckiana Pride Parade. Yelling “Kentucky!” omits Indiana. Secondly, I don’t know about you, but I’m over the whole statewide thing. At my job I screen people for Medicaid eligibility (yes, I really am a socialist*) and periodically we are reminded that it doesn’t matter if according to their state two persons are legally married, we go by federal rules and on a federal level, those people aren’t married.

Lastly, I miss the other slogan we used to chant: “We’re here. We’re queer. Get over it. Get used to it.” I liked that. A lot. It worked for me. But then again, I’m a Sagittarius, and we’re not known for our tact. I’m also from Chicago, which means you get a double-whammy of bluntness.  Have a problem with that? Get over it. Get used to it.

Here’s the thing: If you don’t go to the parade, you don’t experience the parade, because if the media cover it at all, they barely cover it. Fifteen seconds. Thirty seconds. So I was thrilled to see so many people, and so many organizations, marching. Ford; UPS; Humana; Third Lutheran Church; Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church; the Geek Squad; the IAW; the ACLU and many, many more. And spectators, too, especially as we got closer to Main Street. The area around the Connection nightclub complex was packed, of course, but the sidewalks on other stretches were also filled, lots of middle-of-America types clapping and cheering, waving and smiling, or else with their cellphones out, snapping away or making videos. I hear there were one or two groups of protestors along the way. I never saw them.

Last night and this morning I started to get upset because of the sparsity of traditional media coverage. It seemed the same old, same old. We marched, but who knows that we did? Then I realized – the world has changed. Every one of the people along the route and in the parade was busy uploading images to their Facebook wall, or their blog, or their Pinterest account, where it will be seen and shared by all of their friends. That’s more coverage than any news outlet could ever provide, and more important coverage, too, because it comes with a human face. It says “I support this issue because it affects me and/or people I care about.” I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Harvey Milk was right. If everybody can be made to realize that they know people being discriminated against, things will change. Social media is the key.

A tree fell in a forest, but it wasn’t alone. Thousands of people were there, and they uploaded the video to YouTube, so that millions of people could hear the sound.

*That’s a joke. I see nothing inconsistent with being a member of a democratic country and wanting all citizens to succeed, but apparently some people do.