Monday, June 29, 2015

An Extra Happy Pride Parade in New York This Year

Two days after the historic Supreme Court decision making marriage equality the law of the land, New York and many other cities had their Gay Pride parades.
Gay Pride parades are always joyful uninhibited events, but this one was especially happy.  I was high-fived by scores of perfect strangers along the route.

Here are my photos of the 2015 Gay Pride Parade in New York.

Rainbow flags everywhere!

The exuberant man in the foreground is Weiben Wang.

It never ceases to amaze me how big the annual parade in New York is.  The parade was so big this year that it started at 12:30 and finally ended at 8PM.  This is how 5th Avenue looked from about 37th street at 6PM.  This year's parade was the biggest since 1994 (Stonewall 25 plus the Gay Games that year), and might have been bigger.

This is looking back up 5th Avenue from where we were.  We were toward the end of the parade, but where that is here, I don't know.

What's a Pride parade without spectacle and extravagance?

From the float of a Brazilian contingent

Fierce!  From the Colombian contingent

A freelancer marching in the parade

More Brazilians

Part of the Caribbean contingent

Sometimes the best show at these Pride parades is the spectators.

Lots of people climbed things to get a better look, until the cops told them to get down off of there.

Where else but at a Pride parade would you see a morass of glitter?

One of many emcees.

 Marble Collegiate Church where Adlai Stevenson once said he found "the Apostle Paul appealing and the Apostle Peale appalling."  Norman Vincent Peale would hardly recognize the place now.

Norman Vincent Peale with a rainbow flag.  He would not be amused, but who cares.  Everyone was thinking positive on 5th Avenue that day.

 The Empire State Building with the Episcopal float in the foreground.

 The Flatiron Building

 And the sun comes out!  I thought the weather was perfect with highs in the 70sF.  This was one of the few years where I wasn't dripping with sweat and prostrate with heat exhaustion at the parade.

 A lot of big corporate contingents in the parade this year; I saw Target, Google, Microsoft, Goldman-Sachs,  H&M, and others.  They all had huge contingents of employees and their own original floats, many with lots of tech gadgets like jumbotrons featuring animated productions made for the parade.  The Google float had one kick-ass DJ who really got the crowds going.

I'm not sure what I think of all this.

Big Gay is watching.
Part of a large boom camera broadcasting the parade on someone's live feed somewhere.

 Christopher Street

 The Stonewall where it all started.
The original Stonewall included the building on the right under scaffold.

 Our little contingent from Saint Luke in the Fields

 Some Episcopalians love their church because their church stood up for them and didn't back down despite a lot of international scorn and pressure.

 The Episcopal Church float this year.  All the bishops were at Convention in Salt Lake City.

 The always friendly people at Ascension with water for the marchers.  The Presbyterians and the Reformed Church folks up the Avenue ran out of water (the parade was bigger than expected), so this was very welcome.  Leave it to Episcopalians to put lemons in their ice water.

 A colorful bouquet with Pride bunting in Saint Luke in the Fields.

The World Trade Center lit up for Pride Day that night from Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

The Empire State Building from Williamsburg in Brooklyn that night.

I read a lot of complaints on Facebook about the media limiting their coverage of Pride to celebrities and what they think;  Governor Cuomo performing a marriage for a couple of rich white guys and the latest on what Caitlyn Jenner or Taylor Swift thinks about anything.
The real story is the thousands upon thousands who showed up to celebrate a major revolution in their relationship to their own country and to society.  I think the most interesting tales (which have yet to be told as far as I know) are of towns and cities and states where Gay Pride was observed by anyone for the very first time.
All of those people you see in the photos above marching in the parade or watching it are the real stars of this show.

I never thought I would ever see marriage equality anywhere, let alone spreading around the world, and now finally in the world's last imperial super-power; all of it.

I'm thinking that maybe this will be my last Pride parade (at least for marching).  At my age, standing waiting for our section to join the parade for hours is murder on my back, and my 57 year old bladder is not as capacious as it once was (New York is getting even less generous with facilities; no more free porto-potties in the age of terrorism and budget constraints).  My dogs were barking when I went to bed last night.

And yet, I had so much fun!  I always have fun at the parade!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

An Especially Happy Pride to All!

Everyone goes on and on about how fast public opinion has changed on gay marriage since about 2010.
We know better.  We know that what has come to pass came after 150 years of hard struggle with a lot of deaths.  I remember when people (who were usually not gay) wondered where our leaders were, who would be the be prophetic leader who would take us all over the Jordan into freedom.
It turns out that we had lots of leaders, millions of them.  Everyone who ever came out of a closet is a leader.

An especially happy Pride Day to All!

Berlin 1920s

New York 1970


Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Death of the Confederacy

Watching the video of the bereaved relatives' statements at Dylann Roof's bail hearing is almost unbearably wrenching.  And yet, it was a supreme teaching moment for all of us.  I doubt that I could pass the test the bereaved endured here.  Instead of calling for vengeance and despite their grief and anger, they asked for mercy upon the very person who killed their loved ones and wrecked their lives and those of so many more.  The violence and destructive passions end with them, so they each and all publicly declared.  This was an act worthy of the very good and conscientious people murdered so pointlessly at Emanuel AME Church that evening, and of the faith that they professed.  As I say, I very much doubt that I could pass a similar test.

Dylann Roof killed nine people in cold blood after enjoying the welcome and hospitality that they offered.  He killed the members of a small Bible study group in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC after sitting with them for about an hour.  He killed them for no other reason than that they were Black and that they were in front of him at that moment.  Even in a brutal age of suicide bombers, videoed beheadings, and a grade school gun massacre, this act was exceptional in its coldness and obscenity.

In that horrible act, Dylann Roof may well have dealt the coup de grace to the very cause he espoused, the cult of the Confederacy.  Confederate flags are coming down all over the South and citizens groups and city councils are arguing over what to do with Confederate war memorials on courthouse squares in all the states of the former Confederacy and in the old Border States.

My dad hated the old Confederacy.  He was no liberal and agreed with the idea of states' rights, but he agreed with Sam Houston on the issue of the Noble Cause.  My dad like Houston believed that Texas should have stayed in the Union, that slavery and supremacy were not worth the price of treason.  He never thought that the Confederate Cause was noble.  For this reason, he hated having to travel in East Texas where the joke is that Texas was once part of the original Confederacy and most of East Texas still is.  We kept a photo of Lincoln hanging in our house in dear old Texas.

The Confederacy was a kind of cult for white Southerners.  For them the Noble Cause was about freedom, independence, and a "way of life" unique to the Southern USA which always seemed to be under threat.  White Southerners persuaded themselves that slavery was a kind of benevolent paternalism, that they even "spoiled" their slaves.  The South lost not because of a lack of will or virtue, but because of the superior numbers and industrial might of the North, so they believed (impoverished rural New Englanders from that time might not agree).  The tremendous bloodshed of the Civil War transformed the defeat into a kind of sacred martyrdom for Southern whites.  We should also remember that the South is the only part of the USA to experience military occupation.  Those memories had a powerful influence on subsequent history down to the present day.  Every reform, every effort to modernize was seen as another intrusion by outsiders.  The partisans of the Old South kept a hammerlock on Southern politics, intimidating into silence all who might disagree with their reading of history and of the present day.

Just a few days ago, Paul Thurmond, the son of  Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond, called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol, and even more so, publicly rejected the heritage for which it stands for so many Southerners.  "I am not proud of this heritage.  These practices were inhumane and wrong, wrong, wrong!" he declared from the floor of the state senate.  It is hard to imagine anything more powerfully symbolic coming from the state where the Confederacy began.  The Confederacy stood for slavery and against the idea of common humanity.  It deserved to lose, and was not worth the fight.  Poor men fought a war and died in the thousands for the interests of a few wealthy plantation owners getting rich off supplying cotton at little cost to textile manufacturers in Britain and France.  That wealth was built on backs of enslaved Africans and protected by poor whites who shared in none of it.

What an irony that a Confederate zealot with a cold blooded massacre of people in church probably drove the last nail into the coffin of the cult of the Confederacy after 150 years.

Richard Norris Brookes' painting of the memory of the Noble Cause

Dylann Roof's self portrait showing its current reality

Liberals and the Left have always had their national loyalties questioned.  Their internationalism and cosmopolitanism caused people to question their patriotism.

And yet, it's only the ultra-nationalist very far right that resorted to sedition and treason time and time again.  I'm thinking of the French generals who decided that they would rather live under Hitler than take orders from all those Jews in the Third Republic, and so opened up the gates of Paris for the Germans in 1940.

Those folks calling for Texas to secede are hardly a cross section of the population of that state.  Nor do they have any intention of sharing Texas with people who do not look like them, talk like them, and believe like they do.  They would rather betray and leave the USA than be part of an America where they are no longer in charge and deferred to.

And there is always this:

No tree-hugging politically correct libturd here.

Rainbows Over The USA

 Rainbow over Washington DC

 Rainbows over New York

 Rainbows over Kansas

 Rainbow over Chicago

 Rainbow over the Florida Everglades

 Rainbow over Mount Rushmore

 Rainbows over Texas

Rainbow over Dallas

 Rainbow over the Mississippi

Rainbow over Long's Peak Colorado

Rainbow over Chaco Canyon

 Rainbow over the Grand Canyon

 Rainbow over Arizona

 Rainbow over the Golden Gate Bridge