Thank you for all of positive feedback about our big Pride Issue! I’ve heard it jokingly referred to as a “JCPenney catalog” due to its size, which is doubly apropos considering JCP’s dedication to inclusive marketing with and for the rainbow community. I’m looking forward to reading the issue a few more times to prepare myself for the big weekend that we’re entering into; I’ll be downloading the Twin Cities Pride and YesterQueer apps and spiffing up my Tevas. I even got a pedicure with red sparkly toenail polish. Very festive. It’s a little out-of-the-box for me, as I usually choose an inconspicuous mauve, but what can I say? It’s PRIDE.
Speaking of rainbows, sparkles, and all-things-festive, I recently had a conversation with a woman I’ve known all my life, an old family friend in rural Minnesota. While we were chatting at a kitchen table—you know, the iconic Minnesota kitchen table with some mail stacked on it, Corelle coffee cups, and a swirly white coffee carafe with lukewarm Folgers in it—the topic somehow turned to this rainbow community. Not knowing her politics (which often conflates to GLBT-awareness and -openness in my rural experiences), I didn’t know how the conversation was going to go. It became apparent as we talked that her daughter lives in The Cities and has gay friends and roommates. She spoke of them kindly. Her impression of her daughter’s gay friends seemed to indicate more of that wonderful halo effect that happens when people who are just plain out and living their lives have an effect on those who simply witness them. It’s usually a neutral-to-positive experience for the people who are new to seeing the GLBT community, this “newness” being a generalization that can be extended to much of the population in rural areas by virtue of census statistics. Being out is a demonstration of sorts, the personal is political. She didn’t say any of this, but that was my pop-psychology analysis of her statements. I’d classify her as being open to the community.
Then she offhandedly said, “I just wish they wouldn’t flaunt it.”
She said it in a way that seemed like “they” meant both her daughter’s roommates as well as the larger community. It wasn’t negative, necessarily, but still my kneejerk reaction was to be defensive; it’s that Mama Bear bristling to the mention of the “they” that is mine. In a matter of moments, I had visions of rainbows and unicorns and parading people and drag queens and the 212-page Pride Issue that I’d just sent to press with some of my blood, sweat, and tears on it. I saw the same-sex couples holding hands and kissing, the weddings in the park, the bright and loud concerts, and all the laughter. I thought of the people who come to Pride from near and far, the ones who push baby strollers to Hennepin Avenue and through Loring Park; the scantily clad folks who are actually trying to “flaunt it;” the previous years of VOTE NO and marriage equality campaigns and celebration; the noises, the colors…the sounds and sights of any festive occasion.
Back at that small-town kitchen table, I lifted my Corelle coffee cup, took a sip of my Folgers, noticed the somewhat ostentatious sparkle of my toes, and returned her peaceful smile. She is one of the most understated people within a quiet rural community that is full of people who just don’t flaunt. Anything.
And then I calmed the heck down and asked her if she’d pass me the JCPenney catalog.
Happy Pride, friends. Flaunt it if you’ve got it.
With you and with thanks,