As a PFLAG (Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays) Mom, this is one of the few times I have not attended a Pride Event in the last 17 years, wherever I have been at the time. I’ve marched in parades all over the Midwest, sat on the sidelines in Chicago and San Francisco to watch, (wo)manned booths, and so much more.
Lincoln, NE held it’s Star City Pride Festival July 15 – 17, and from all accounts it was a huge success, even with the heat index riding at the 110 degree mark. This year, my weekend was packed, and I find I don’t do very well in that much heat. So, let me celebrate here in my blog, because, you see, I am so very proud of this community – the LGBTQA* community – located in a hyper-conservative state named Nebraska.
I’ve talked to several people who have been stalwart attendees at these events, and they said it was the best ever. And, they were excited and pleased to see so many families attending. The attention to kids has always made this event special in my mind. Lincoln’s celebration started out as a picnic in the park for families and friends many years ago. And, it has never lost this culture as it has grown to accommodate dances, stage performances, and booths selling Pride jewelry, home decorations and more. Lincoln’s LGBTQA community recognizes that there are families – same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples raising their children to celebrate diversity and embrace those who are different, but the same, from them. The community makes a strong effort to include all generations, sexual orientation, and gender identity in the celebration.
As the festival progressed through the weekend without a hitch, Lincoln was embroiled in a contest sponsored by the Lincoln Journal Star to give away a wedding to one lucky couple. Embroiled is a good word for this, I think. It means to involve somebody or yourself in conflict, or to make something confused or overly complicated. The LBGTQA community banded together to vote for a same-sex couple to win. Many who voted for them do not know Mitch and Ryan, but voted for them in order to take a conscious and intentional stand for equality.
However, what began as an a innocuous contest sponsored by the local newspaper took on a contentious stance. One radio station, in true Nebraska form, began a campaign to vote for the second place couple. (One has to love democracy, even when you don’t agree with the other party.) Once again, I am so very proud of my family (yes, they are my family) and friends. They were adamant in letting people know the following: “Please do not say anything disparaging about any of the other contestants, no matter how mean or nasty their supporters get…Jeremiah and Nicole (2nd place couple) definitely deserve a great wedding. ENCOURAGE people to vote out of love for the contestants, not out of hate.”
Outcome: The wedding contest was won by Mitch and Ryan by a considerable margin. I have every confidence that the wedding will be spectacular!
Many of you may be wondering why I am sharing all of this with you. I have a few reasons. One, because I am remiss in letting the whole LGBTQA community know how much I love them as often as I should. Second, because the concept of inclusiveness and equality has been on my mind a great deal over the last few weeks. And, finally, because we appear to be a nation of raging polar opposites in our beliefs, our culture, our politics, our economics, and our willingness to recognize our role in humanity vs. passing judgment. Unless, of course, those who rest in the middle begin to speak up and take action. We may then become, once again, the nation we were intended to be, a nation founded on equality, freedom, and a willingness to work together to become truly great.
There isn’t room in this blog to pursue some of these thoughts – so let me close with a quote, a restatement of love for LBGTQA family and friends, and an invitation to stay tuned for more musings.
“Have you ever lived my life, have you ever spent one minute in my shoes? If you haven’t, then tell me why you judge me like you do.” ~ Unknown
* LGBTQA – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Allies