This past weekend my little tribe attended our 3rd Pride festival as a family. We were joined by Gracie’s Guncles and ran into tons of our LGBT friends and their kiddos that we haven’t seen in years. It was definitely one of those Prides where everyone came out to join in the fun and I think the gorgeous weather had a lot to do with that (even though it ended up raining a bit). I just love years when it feels like the entire community shows up.
The Pride Parade and festivities at the local State Fairgrounds in New Mexico are super kid friendly. There’s a “Kids Zone” that Grace absolutely loves to play in every year! There’s a family friendly parade, face painting, jumpers, children’s music and vendors who cater to parents out shopping for their kiddos. The park is basically crawling with strollers, wagons and kids most of the afternoon and it’s so much fun. Now don’t get me wrong, there are events for adults only but those come in the evenings after all the kiddos have been taken home. There’s a pool party for the grownups that is basically clothing optional… yikes, lol.. and several other adult events that take place separate from the main events at the fairgrounds. To give you an idea of how things are set up, you have to have a bracelet if you want a beer and you have to drink said beer in a fenced off portion of the grounds where alcohol cannot be taken in or out of, no kids allowed. The reason I mention this is that it became clear to me this past weekend that some of my fellow heterosexual parents have a distorted view of what Pride is all about and what goes on at this annual event.
I posted the following picture on Saturday of my beautiful wife and daughter watching the parade with the following caption: “We just may be the most Prideful family there ever was. Grace knows she has two moms and happily tells anyone who will listen. Still, it’s important to us that she knows she comes from an amazing community. A community of people who live their lives with authenticity, regardless of the circumstance. Today we celebrate the LGBT community. We rule!” This post was met with 120+ “likes” and lots of loving and supportive comments from friends and family, many of which have attended Pride events with us over the years.
But not all were supportive.
One in particular was quite judgmental and caught me completely off guard.
It came from a family member who has always appeared to be supportive of my family and Georgia and I, as parents. This person has since deleted his comment (I’ll explain why he did in a bit) but he said something along the lines of, Pride is not an appropriate environment for children and he would NEVER take his kids to Pride. He went on to compare NM Pride to San Francisco Pride explaining that it is overly sexual in nature and not a suitable environment for children.
He responded further defending his views while throwing in the ever so annoying, “no offense but” remark and I just left it there. I could have become super defensive making it clear that I do take offense to someone saying they would never take their kids to a event that I just clearly made the conscious decision to take my kid to, but I just let it go.
My LGBT friends however, did not…
They quickly came to our defense and the conversations that followed resulted in this person apologizing to us and deleting his comment. It felt like a small victory but more than that, it made me happy to know that anyone following the conversation, some of whom may share in this persons views, were educated about what Pride is really all about and why it’s so important to LGBT families that it exists.
There are definitely things that happen at Pride that are not necessarily kid-friendly and I would never want to change that. That is what makes it Pride, the freedom to express and celebrate your individuality in whatever way you choose. But it’s also important to share that as the gay community becomes more family-oriented, we are aware of this and we take our parental responsibilities very seriously which is exactly why the Pride events of today include safe-spaces where we can attend with our children and be prideful but also ensure that we are doing our jobs as parents.
In the end, you can’t protect your children from everything they might encounter in the world and you shouldn’t feel you need to. Why not instead take the mindset that in those small instances or encounters like, oh I don’t know, seeing a man in a dress, we use them as teaching moments. The tradeoff of teaching them about diversity, open-mindedness and to be proud of their family definitely outweighs the small chance that they might see something that requires an explanation.
Pride was born of the courageous actions taken by the gay community following the 1969 Stonewall Riots, when gays rose up and fought back against police brutality in New York. Since that time, Pride events, which are celebrated the entire month of June, have spread to cities both large and small all over the world. It is a celebration of love, acceptance, inclusion, diversity and fair treatment of all families.
We refuse to forget the people who came before us and fought for the equality that many of us enjoy today. This fight has cost LGBT activists their families, their jobs and for some, their lives. So every June it is our responsibility to gather and show our support for the community and for each other because there is still so much work to be done. It’s important that we show our children that there are other families that look just like theirs and that we all have a place in this world.
Happy Pride, friends. :)