When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. —Marcus Aurelius
We woke up Saturday morning excited about the parade. We drove downtown early to find a parking spot, walked down Mass. Ave. to get our coffee on, then walked back to claim our favorite spot from which to shoot the parade. Sure, it was warm and humid, but that was okay. We were prepared for that. Kat carried water and snacks in her purse. She and the kids sat in the shade and waited and even made some new friends.
We came home, exhausted but happy. The kids faces were red from the sun but they were more excited about the excessively large amount of candy they had received (which will be distributed among more responsible people). I downloaded the pictures, marked the ones that I liked, and enjoyed a nap. It was a good day.
Then, we woke up Sunday to bad news that just kept getting worse. By noon, we were wondering what the fuck was wrong with our country. We felt what all our friends were feeling: hurt, anger, and disbelief when the body count went to 50. How could this happen? Why would this happen?
Next came the realization that the day could have been worse. Los Angeles police received a tip that allowed them to stop someone that, at the time, seemed bent on disrupting the LA Pride parade. With the number of weapons and explosive making materials confiscated, considerable harm might have been done, though the young man’s motives remain unclear.
I offer no explanation nor excuses for to do so is folly. Hate is the bottom line and we can make all the excuses and place the blame a dozen different places but at the end of the day if we don’t address the hate we leave the door open for the same thing to happen again.
How do we address the hate? By showing more love. The LGBT community and their allies are hurting, but Love did not die on the floor at Pulse. LOVE is still alive. Love is not going anywhere. We will take a moment to reflect, to mourn, and to honor the fallen. Then, we will return to the clubs, to the streets, to the parades and we will show everyone that Love is still alive. We are embracing, still armed with acceptance, still ready to celebrate the individuality of every person, no matter how they identify with life.
We who are alive respect those whose lives were lost this weekend by bit letting these events weaken our resolve. Everyone has the right to be who they choose to be and no one has the right to take your personhood away, not with a gun, not with their speech, not with a stupid law about where to pee. We are alive and we are PROUD of those who stand in support of those who are different from themselves. We are PROUD that Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett and his wife were front and center at Saturday’s parade. We are PROUD that Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg walked alongside LGBT supporters. We are PROUD that this year’s parade grew even larger and that more businesses stepped out of the shadows to show their support.
So, today we share our photos from Saturday, when we were happy, when we didn’t even think that someone might target such an event with hate, when we took PRIDE in being alive and sharing a moment with our LGBT friends. You’ll see the mayor, Cadillac Barbie, Mr. Gregg, and many more. You’ll see the drone that hovered above the parade route and a young man who looks angry but actually had just run out of bananas to give away. You’ll see bubbles and bodies and rainbows but more than anything you’ll see people happy to be alive and being free to be themselves.
Kat sent me a video this morning that I also want you to see. The scene is from a PRIDE event in South Korea. Parents of LGBT children stand in the street and give hugs to anyone, to everyone, to show that they are loved. I cannot help but wonder if this isn’t the attitude we need to take as well. What kind of message would it send if thousands of LGBT allies stood on the circle and gave hugs and messages of support not only to our LGBT friends, but to anyone who needs that moment of love and affirmation? I’ll put the video after the photos.
I never wear any color but black, but this morning there is a button on my shirt. It is round, bordered by a rainbow and says, “ALLY.” My plan is to wear that button everywhere I go, every day, for as long as I can keep up with the magnetic back, so that everyone I see will know that this weekend’s tragedy has not weakened our resolve. We are alive, determined to support our LGBT friends, and determined, more than ever, to love.