Yesterday was the Pride festival for Asheville, North Carolina and it was held in beautiful Pack Square Park. We call it home, lots of people call it a vacation destination nestled in Western North Carolina.
We arrived early’ish in the day. It was gorgeous, partly sunny and warm enough to need a little shade but not shorts. The perfect early fall day in the south.
We wore our newly purchased, just for this event, matching t-shirts and held hands as we strolled. You can say we looked super gay but that was the theme. We were headed to Pride after all.
We walked past a few screaming protestors at the festival line. Each shouting ridiculous things about lesbians and something about children. While I know a lot about both I had better things to do than correct them.
I stared quietly, hoping that what I heard about how looks could kill was correct. It seems it wasn’t as none of the preaching, sign holding annonces dropped to the ground.
I passed by wondering what compels someone to throw that much hate at such a peaceful, colorful group of people in the middle of a city.
Even though extra security was evident, it didn’t take long to forget those sign holding screaming lunatics were even We received so many kind words, thumbs up and sweet compliments on our matching ensemble. It was delightful to be noticed for our love (literally!) in a way much different than the usual stares and glares we get out and about in society sometimes.
There were white tented booths in the park, each with a mission to sell us something whether it be a hand craft, some rainbow colored something or an agenda of some sort.
I would say I wasn’t buying … but who am I kidding. I wanted to soak it all in. I was proud to be there and proud of the businesses who came out to show their support. It was amazing.
I stopped at nearly all 100 or so booths. I picked up beads, sampled wine, picked up more beads, scored some colorful sun glasses, signed up to win stuff, gave to charity, listened to people talk about their organization and bought some cool lesbian swag from local vendors.
We had a couple beers, met up with old friends and watched some people dance.
Watched some people try to dance that is.
We listened to a local drum circle and a group of guys singing their hearts out. We watched “Cher” give a spectacular performance, some Drag Royalty delicately balance crowns the size of Buicks on their heads and some scantily clad performers high kick their way to tips from the crowd.
There were cheers and applause from a park full of people.
Everyone there in unity and rainbow colors in spite of controversial legislation, a nauseating political race, and so shortly after a mass shooting of people just like us … a massacre for simply being proud of who they were.
There were speeches and heartfelt pleas to be kind to one another. There is certainly more than enough hate in the world without us attacking each other. There was talk about repealing the stupid bathroom bill – also known as HB2. If you don’t know about HB2 read up here. Basically it means that you are required by law to use the bathroom designated by your birth gender. This doesn’t really mean a change in my life but it could for many, many others and quite unfairly.
None of that kept the community from celebration. It was a great day.
A beautiful, sun shining, peaceful day.
It meant a great deal for us to be there, to represent, to be counted in a community so united yet sometimes just as divided.. The festival in Asheville was held in Pack Square Park right in front of City Hall. I am super blessed to have my life here, my wife and my kids and my friends.
Please, if you have the opportunity, show your love and support.
It matters. You matter. Be counted.
Be present. Be proud.
Have pride in yourself as a member or as an ally to the community.