The month of June is "Pride Month" as cities throughout the U.S. pick weekends throughout the four weeks to celebrate their own queer community. The month of June is important because on the early morning hours of June 28th, 1969, "Stonewall" took place. The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent push-back ("Hey, NYC cops. Stop beating the shit out of gay folks") demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in the West Village of NYC. Stonewall is considered a pivotal moment in the movement for LGBTQ rights.
Washington D.C.'s Pride Week is the first week in June, culminating with the Pride Parade and Festival.
The Pride parade starts at the steps of Church of the Pilgrims. The parade literally surrounds our building as the start-off.
For me, Pride confirms people seek public spaces that are alive with color, sound, joy, hospitality, and creativity.
Here's my "data":
1) Open the Damn Doors! Pilgrims opened it's doors for bathrooms, water, and cooling off with the A.C. for the clothed, barely clothed, and basically no clothed parade goers. Our resident statistician, Gerry Hendershot, estimated 1,800 people came through our doors that Saturday afternoon, with 20 people PER MINUTE coming through the 3:15-4:15 hour (parade started at 4:30pm). Toilet paper, bathrooms, lots and lots of water and cups. Basic stuff, folks. Memorable hospitality.
2) Gender Neutral Bathrooms: We made all 3 of our bathrooms gender neutral with Carol Huls, one of our members, directly urinal and stall traffic. "Two urinals in this bathroom, two stalls in this bathroom...you decide!"
3) More Light Presbyterians stepped it up with simple t-shirts: rainbow colored, easy to read words on the front and back. We looked like a human rainbow as we gathered and marched in the parade together.
4) Drag Queens, Drag Kings---my favorites. I love those who bust up the gender binary and social construction of gender.
5) Floats! Here comes the wild creativity. Best float in my view goes to Chipotle. A guy, in his underwear, was riding not a
mechanical bull but a mechanical BURRITO! 3 cheers to that creative staff meeting!
6) Color, color and more color: Dupont Circle turns into a rainbow-palooza with restaurants, hotels, row houses alive with their version of the rainbow in fabric and streamers. Clearly people take an enormous amount of time in the planning and presentation of their rainbow.
7) The Parade Watchers: I can't really call folks "watchers" because the energy, yelling, screaming with joy coming out of the folks lined-up to watch blurs the boundaries between who is in the parade and who is watching. People are their own human "float" in how they dress for Pride, move their bodies to touch those marching, and the profound expression of joy.
8) Pilgrims Unleashed More Creativity: Who knew if we gave Rob Nelb, Elder for Congregational Care, a bunch of flowers he would flutter his way through the parade route--THE ENTIRE PARADE ROUTE--in a rainbow cape. Our booth at the Festival became more interactive--let's make our booth this year more "like us" was the mantra.
Church with closed doors? Gender specific bathrooms? Church without color, sound, joy, and glee? Neighborhood without color, sound, and joy? Nope. Sorry. Pride shows me that people are seeking Something Else.