My daughter has become too old for the San Francisco Pride Parade. That may sound odd, to say that one’s daughter is too old for a gay pride parade. Shouldn’t I say “too young?” Well, she’s that too.
The reason I say she is too old is because she is now too old to be easily distracted from staring at the naked people, the people tying each other up and whipping each other, and other freaky people in general.
Last year, when she was 4, we were still able to take her. We called it the “Rainbow Parade” and we told her it was a celebration of how all people are different and special. Of how people come from all over the world to visit and live in San Francisco because we can be ourselves here and we can love each other for who we are in our hearts. We don’t make a huge deal out of same-sex couples because we don’t want her to think that it is a big deal. We just tell her that all families are different. Some families have one mommy and one child. Some families have a daddy, a mommy and ten children. Some families have two daddies or two mommies and two children. And so on.
And while we know that it is a big deal that California allows same-sex couples to get married, and we appreciate the civil rights significance of this landmark time, our child has yet to grasp the nuances and meanings of “regular” hetero-marriage. No need to fill her in on gay and lesbian love as historically repressed at this time.
But that’s about families. About relationships and bonds and commitments and love. Not about flagrant bumping and grinding and spanking and gyrating and wriggling about in tiny speedos and combat boots.
The parade last year started out well. The Dykes on Bikes roared, the hottie guys on the Altoids float passed out tins of cinnamon mints while bouncing to the tunes of Erasure.
Grace and a couple of little friends waved at the festooned floats, caught candy from spangled drag-queens, and waved rainbow flags like good little San Franciscans. Then came the BDSM (I think it stands for bondage-domination-sadism-masochism, or something like that) float. One of our little girl-buddies caught a glimpse of a person wearing a horned leather mask, and not much else, and got really freaked out by the “monster” float.
Cue time for a distraction.
I’m all for consenting adults doing whatever they darn well feel like in private. If they want to dress up in pleather overalls and tie each other up with twizzler sticks and smack each other over the head with bags of vomit that’s fine with me. But this was the middle of Market Street. Granted it was also San Francisco. And it was also Pride Week.
Which leads me back to my point. My daughter is now officially too old for the Pride Parade. Maybe when she’s older we can take her back. When we’re ready to answer all the questions she will be ready to ask.
P.S. I wrote this essay a few days before the Pride Parade, then read an article after the parade on another parenting blog called The Poop. The author raved about how much fun it was to take kids to ride in the “Tykes on Bikes” section of the parade. It made me re-think all of the above arguments.
Tykes on Bikes (a play on the famous Dykes on Bikes and corresponding Mikes on Bikes) was very family-friendly, sweet, warm, and wholesome. It was all about celebrating children and families and just having a great time. It was bordered by the Pride Marching Band and the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays group (always a goosebump-inducing contingent.) So maybe next year I’ll be writing about participating in the parade. If we move along with the group, rather than watch from the sidelines, maybe we can avoid the less-than-savory components and keep feeling the pride.