We aren't big parade go-ers, but, a few times, we have actually been in a parade. When my daughter was celebrating her 3rd anniversary cancer free, an organization asked us to ride in their float. My family, including my sister Grace, climbed up on the flat bed truck and sat on plastic chairs that, honestly, felt like they were going to snap at every single turn. With one hand, we waved to onlookers; with the other hand, we braced ourselves holding the loosely fastened railing.
When my daughter celebrated the end of her chemotherapy treatments, we brought her to Sesame Place (PA). It was where we had spent our last vacation just before she was diagnosed. She sat up on the (much sturdier) float surrounded by Elmo and Zoe and waved along to the crowds.
Each parade we had been a part of was directly related to our experiences and identities.
On Saturday, June 11th, my family woke up early and dressed ourselves in rainbow bandanas, headbands, shirts and stickers. We were off to the Boston PRIDE parade with our school.
As with the other parades, I asked my children, "Do you know why we are participating in this parade?"
They seemed a bit confused.
"It's a parade for people who are LGBT?" my daughter asked. "But, .... aren't you and Dad not gay?"
I explained that, yes, the parade is a celebration of the LGBTQ community. I explained that we are participating in support of our friends who identify as LGBTQ, their families, their teachers, and their community. I made clear -- this parade is not about us.
And, that is why it is important that we show up.
The LGBTQ community does not need cis- and hetero- folks. It is important that as cis- and hetero- folks that we listen to the calling of the LGBTQ community. It is important that we have conversations about and with the LGBTQ community through the lens of intersectionality. That, while the needs of the LGBTQ community are unique within, that experiences of race, class, gender, ability, expression, faith, education and so on cross borders and lines.
And, it is important to talk with our children about issues that impact and affect -- and structurally and politically limit -- LGBTQ communities.
I refuse to raise children who are not aware of the ways in which their hetero- and cis- privilege oppress others. These conversations are intentional.
Our own school delegation had over 70 people marching. And, for 2.27 mlles, the streets of Boston were lined with people. About a 1/4 mile into the parade, I turned to one of my children and said, "See this. All these folks are here to show pride in their community, one that believes in the dignity, rights, love and experiences of people who are LGBT. How does that feel?"
"Good," was the response. I knew it meant much more than that.
Friends, my heart is aching for the community of the people whose lives were taken at the Orlando Pulse nightclub. And, my activism fire is fueled for the many LGBTQ people who, still, live without protections -- legal and personal -- in our communities.
While prayers are comforting, it is time for policy change. We are in an election cycle. Enough said.