June 30, 2006

soapbox: Pride in the Heartland

[A guest soapbox from Hope Berry Manley who recently relocated to Ohio from San Francisco.]

This weekend I went to my first Pride Columbus, Ohio. I have been to many Pride celebrations, mostly in San Francisco where I just moved from. In the 14 years I lived in San Francisco, I missed one, or two, Pride weekends. I have also been to Pride in Atlanta, New York, San Diego, San Jose, and Washington DC. Each are unique, here is what I found special about Columbus.

The crowd was wonderfully diverse and full of women. Lesbian women. Women with mullets, athletic uniforms, young, and older. It was wonderful. There were men into bears, bands, chorus and clubs. There were drag-queens, and a few trans-folks. LGBT families abounded, the package of COLAGE literature I had went fast. The festival started at 11AM and I had personally exchanged all the newsletters I had for email addresses by Noon. There was a giant gated area for children, with day long activities, story-telling, music, wading pools and lots of shade. There were funny t-shirts "All I want is world peace, and a boyfriend" and the hottest seller, that simply read "01-20-09" which upon asking I found out is Bush's last day in office. There wasn't a Log Cabin Club member in sight!

The booths were run by people, not professionals. They weren't being paid to be there, they wanted to be there. They were very approachable and all conversations were started off on a first name basis and exchange of contact information. OK, OK there were a few corporations (all events need some sponsorship) but they were discreet, there were no advertisements of on the stage and they were mostly banks and insurance companies, things we all need right? Not tequila, vodka and gin. P-FLAG, youth groups, local churches (with lesbian ministers, and they weren't MCC!) and a democratic club were in the fore. It was the richest Pride experience I have had in years.

I have watched San Francisco Pride grow from a daylong celebration to a weekend celebration that spills over, to the days before and after. Leaving some reminder of it all year long. Kind of like fog or dry ice swirling, Pride is always swirling around at your feet in San Francisco. It is wonderful, but not so in Columbus. Pride is a one day, and abruptly, one day only event, with no local media coverage.

After a great day at Pride on Saturday, I found myself gardening in my backyard on Sunday. That was hard. I wanted more. I wanted the the fog to roll in and Pride to swirl around my feet and follow me home.

June 14, 2006

Mass Media Makes a Big Soapbox

I know this will come across as shameless self-promotion, but then again, isn't that what a soapbox is all about? Getting attention?

The short story:
My brother and I are featured in the Advocate this month (6/20/06 Pride Issue) along with a bunch of other second generation adults, talking about what we learned growing up gay with gay parents.

The long story (or the story behind the story):
During all of the Brokeback Mountain media attention I was amazed at how little coverage there was from the kids' perspective. I felt like this frame of the story was being ignored. I approached a few people about doing a story, but I missed the boat shall we say. By the time I had enough personal momentum the moment had passed. But the conversations with the Advocate led me to discussing another thing I am passionate about... the invisibility of queer kids of queer parents. (And to a greater extent, the invisibility of all adult kids of queer parents.)

The story I hoped to tell was how a large number of queer activists working in the movement right now come from queer homes and that their activism is hugely informed by their upbringing. The Advocate assigned reporter Fred Kuhr to the story who interviewed a bunch of us and wrote a very informative piece. I was particularly pleased that the article was not just a "lifestyle" type of article but one that conveyed the message I was hoping to get across. I think my brother said it best: "Having a gay parent connects me to the struggle and gives me a sense of history.... Just having that kind of knowledge takes away the apathy and inspires me ot make a difference."

Thank you to Fred and Sean at the Advocate... to Brendan and to my dear friends Asha, Meredith, Ryan and Jesse who also appear in the article. You are all a part of my family and make the "work" of being an activist much more fun.

And while we are here... don't forget to check out COLAGE and Asha's current project: South Carolina Equality Coalition