When I saw my kid Harry on Saturday, it was outside the #cloyingPARLOR art space in Brooklyn. They were dressed as Amber Alert for a dusk performance piece and video screening in the garden with fellow alternative drag artist, Lucy Balls. Amber’s bobbed blue hair, gemmed eye make-up, nude undergarment and short aqua silk robe comprised an outfit her dad described on Facebook as “understated.” And for Amber, that was true.
Knowing the performance was going to feature a “spa day” with food items from the fridge, I couldn’t help but flash to the Marge-Simpson-style blue hair Harry wore as cooking show co-host “Thelma” during the launch of his movie-making days in fifth grade. As the proud mom of an artistic and unconventional kid, I have loved watching the trajectory of how Harry has “done” or performed gender since they were in kindergarten.
Harry complimented my rainbow manicure. I’d had it done that afternoon to match the rainbow wig I’d be wearing the following day in the New York City Pride Parade.
“I’m not sure how festive tomorrow will be,” I told them. “It’s so soon after Orlando that I wonder if the mood might be more solemn this year.”
“I don’t know about that, Mom,” Amber replied. “It’s Pride.”
On my train ride to Grand Central Sunday morning I immediately felt an aura of electricity and excitement. Amber was right; this was Pride. People with rainbow flags and Pride signs seemed to outnumber the other passengers. A woman seated in front of me smiled as she wiggled her nails of different colors to show me we’d been thinking alike. Ironically I saw her later on 40th Street, the meet-up block for the tri-state areas PFLAG chapters. She introduced me to her wife and daughter, the latter who walked with the PFLAG banner along the entire parade route.
Orlando was definitely “presente” at the parade, and I felt from the many hugs given that afternoon that everyone carried the tragic loss of 49 LGBTQ young people in their hearts. Those kids celebrating Pride Month at the Pulse nightclub would never be forgotten. Their lives were being memorialized, celebrated, and fortifying the LGBTQ community and its allies.
As always, I met many wonderful parents and young people who marched with PFLAG NYC.
I walked much of the way next to a mom who was there with her eight-year-old transgender son and one of his friends, who was collecting necklace beads.
For much of way those two boys high-fived cheering spectators along the route and collected more beads. And I have to admit that I loved hearing several people ask the mom which was her transgender son. It just supported one of my favorite maxims: We’re humans first; gender comes second.
As we walked past the Stonewall Inn, the area that President Obama had just named the United States’ first national monument to LGBTQ rights, a mom named Valerie, who was marching in the parade for the first time and having what she described as “the time of her life,” turned to me.
“The Pride celebration doesn’t end in a few days, does it?” she asked.
“What do you mean,” I replied over the cheering crowd.
“I mean, look at all of these people,” Valerie said. “The official Pride Month might be over on the 30th, but the love in the LGBTQ community never ends.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” I said, pointing to a colorful sign a young woman on the other side of us was holding that read, “Love Always Wins.”
And now, this July 4th holiday weekend, as we celebrate our freedom and independence as a country, I’ll be hoping for soon passage of the Equality Act, introduced in July 2015 to assure that all LGBTQ people in the U.S. have full civil rights and protection under the law. It’s the right thing to do, not only for adults but to show our kids that treating everyone equally matters. And equality, freedom, and safety is something we can all love.
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