My parents may be gayer than I am. My mom and dad – married 40 years in July (Congratulations!) – have marched in more Pride parades than me and are quite involved in the community.
Last week I was talking with my dad about schedules, seeing if I could get him to babysit one evening. He told me he soon would be at a conference out of state. He was disappointed about having to go. “The conference was planned 9 months ago,” he lamented. I didn’t know why he was upset. He goes to lots of conferences.
And then I realized – he was apologetic because he was going to miss Pride.
He invited me to walk with his church group in the parade. My parents belong to an LGBTQA Outreach group through their church, St. John’s Methodist. They participate in community events and help make their church a welcoming place to be. They’ve had tables and booths at Celebration of Change and PrideFest. They helped host students for Pride Conference. They are a nice group of folks and do a lot of positive work.
It hasn’t been easy for my parents though. They and their group have dealt with resistance within their church and without. My mom and dad love me and my partner so much that they take homophobia personally.
At that first assembly meeting during the summer of hate in 2009, when the size and venom of the opposition stunned us, my dad held my hand. He walked beside me as we passed people calling my love and myself hideous things. My dad is a trustee at his church, an Eagle Scout and honest to the core. The red shirts would have welcomed him with open arms, but he stood by me and always has. That night, it was my mom that spoke at the podium, not me.
On Saturday, my mom will be at the Alaska Run for Women to support her daughter-in-law, my sister-in-law, who is battling (and winning!) breast cancer, and then she will go the PrideFest and march in the parade with her group.
Yes, I’m proud of who I am. I am seen and I am heard. I came out to my company’s new CEO recently like it was no big thing.
But I am also proud of my parents. I appreciate that they fight for me when I do not have the time or strength. I am proud at how fiercely they protect and support their children and grandchildren.
Thank you, Mom and Dad. Happy Pride.
Check out tomorrow night’s Pride event, “On These Shoulders We Stand,” 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, UAA Rasmussen Hall Room 110. An illuminating historical account of gay life and activism before Stonewall. Followed by a conversation with the filmmaker, Glenne McElhinney, and local activists. Free event. All ages.