An Afternoon in the Park

Pride Sunday, June 27, in Loring Park in Minneapolis was a gorgeous, sunny day, with great banks of cumulus clouds wreathing the Basilica of St. Mary, and a refreshing breeze bending the tall reeds growing thick beside the pond.

Throngs of Pride celebrators—hetero couples, same-sex couples, families of all stripes—strolled by the scores of rainbow-flag-bedecked booths, accumulating key chains, pens, and other goodies.

Many booths, of course, unmistakably were gay-themed—like those of Lavender’s own “Leather Life guru,” Steve Lenius, who offered copies of his new book of essays, Life, Leather and the Pursuit of Happiness, and Minneapolis’s noted erotic artist, Marc DeBauch. Others covered the arenas of religion and spirituality, pets, politics, education, and health awareness.

I noticed particularly, however, that, homing in on gays being noted (at least before the current economic conditions) for having more disposable income than nongay people, many more home improvement businesses—remodelers, plus door, window, roof, and flooring installers—had booths than I’d recalled from earlier Pride celebrations.

Banks, as usual, vied for attention. Delta Skymiles® credit card from American Express not only had an information booth, but also sported a lounge with café tables and chairs where one could rest weary feet (after perhaps signing on for a new credit card).

A white commitment chapel tent was open to everyone, providing couples of whatever gender composition a chance to exchange vows. Numerous groups urged the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples.

We’ve come a long way, and many changes have taken place since I came to Minneapolis from the Deep South, and attended my first Pride Parade and Pride Festival in Loring Park in 2001.

Sure, one still sees plenty of folks in distinctive (alarming to some outsiders, perhaps) dress and hairstyles, but to my perception, this year, the crowd had less of an angry, in-your-face, rebellious attitude than a “This is my pleasure—enjoy!” one. More non-expressly-gay folks, more boy-and-girl couples, and more family participants came to mix and mingle, rather than stare at the “freaks.”

However far we’ve come, we’re not there yet. As my companion and I were about to leave, I overheard a young man with a clipboard—who approached two young men walking nearby—asking, “Can you spare a few moments for gay rights?” Without breaking stride, one of the two answered, “We already have them—we’re Canadians.”

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