This last weekend, I participated in two San Diego Pride events with the San Diego County Library: outreach at Trans Pride and marching in the parade. This morning, Facebook showed me what I wrote on social media during Pride weekend in 2016:
Happy Pride weekend, San Diego. Never stop, never rest. Your enemies will not.
In the early 1990s, I attended my first Pride parade. I cried when, for a moment, I was overcome by a glimpse of a world better than the one I had been told to settle for.
In 1999, someone threw a teargas canister during the parade. I saw a distant white mass of smoke drifting down the street. An announcer in the stand across from us calmly but urgently spoke into the microphone: “This is teargas, people.” Moments later, it was on us. In seconds, I was reduced to fumbling instinct–unable to see, disoriented, in pain. I had no idea where Arianne was and no way of doing anything to ensure her safety. I didn’t know what was going to happen during the chaos to the pregnant woman who had stood near us or any of the children in the audience. I felt along the wall until I could dimly see again and went down a side street where residents mobilized and provided water and support. Four people were hospitalized, including a three-year-old girl. Many other adults and children, including a pregnant woman, were treated for respiratory, skin, and eye complications. The terrorist responsible was never found.
Last year, I marched in the parade for the first time, with the San Diego County Library, during the downpour.
This year, as with every year, there were numerous reasons to come together. I didn’t march, though I did wave joyously at my coworkers as they went by.
After the Orlando massacre, I saw someone take umbrage at a post that stated that the shooter was born and raised in America and that the toxic stew that he swallowed whole didn’t have just one ingredient, and which followed with examples of the long history of atrocities visited on this community. He asked how could the most horrendous shooting in US history happen during the time when we are the most tolerant? One ready possibility is that of backlash. Forty-seven years ago, you didn’t have to massacre homosexuals in their “hideouts”; you could harass them there while wearing a uniform. Forty-three years ago, you could throw the ones who “flaunted” it in an institution. Thirty-six years ago, you could ignore a health crisis and let it weed people out. Eighteen and twenty-three years ago, you could destroy them one by one if they stepped out of line. Move forward to the day when gay people have had the temerity to become fully visible, to demand that they be treated with the same dignity as any other person in society. The expansion of rights such as marriage equality is progress. But while we pat each other on the backs for how enlightened we’re becoming, let’s not forget that those on the other side are not going to go quietly, hanging their heads in defeat. They will enact legislation to bar people from safely using public restrooms. They will shoot a hundred people because two men kissed each other in public. You don’t have to look outside our borders or dominant culture to find people who hate us because of our freedoms.