This was my first year seeing any part of San Francisco’s Pride festivities. Weird, right? Last year I was in the city during pride weekend, but I went to a very un-prideful baseball game instead of the parade, the party at Civic Center, or the Dyke March down Market. This year I just so happened to come to work a little early to catch a few minutes of the parade and did not expect to see what I did.
I saw love. Everywhere. People laughing, smiling, hugging and kissing, exuding and basking in love. In that single point in time, it was the happiest place on earth. In front of me along Market and Cyril Magnin was a couple of men around my dad’s age, holding hands and happily taking pictures of the parade participants in their flowing ball gowns and full drag makeup, their Carnival dress, their sloganized t-shirts. They were gleefully pointing out cute couples in the parade and in the crowd. When a group of proud SFPD and SFFD officers walked down the streets they protect holding the hands of their beloved, the men said “Oh my God, look how brave they are! Look at how beautiful they are!”.
That’s when I started crying. Sappy tears. Thankful tears. So happy to see people purely in love with one another, and proudly proclaiming their joy to the entire world. The people who protect me and who are there to save me when I start grease fires in the kitchen whilst trying to make a grilled cheese like Alton Brown. Thanks, guys.
Then I saw a marriage equality group holding signs with pictures of their faces and how many years they had been together, all referencing the fact that same-sex marriage is illegal in most of this country. One couple’s sign proclaimed they had been together 12 years today. Another for 46 years. FORTY-SIX YEARS. That’s how long color television has been around, which I know we all take for granted. These people have been in love longer than most couples I know. Then the tears started again.
Not like oh-how-sappy tears, these were why-the-hell-do-they-have-to-march tears. Tears of pain, because I am profoundly wounded by the fact that we as Californians, as Americans, cannot treat all people with equal rights and dignity. That is discriminatory, plain and simple. A woman can marry her first cousin in more states than she can marry her girlfriend. I couldn’t stop crying as thought about how incredibly unfair our laws are, how I wish that my one vote against Prop 8 had somehow magically count for one million votes, how my gay and lesbian and trans friends are no less human than my straight friends, how futile and stupid it is that we are even having an argument over this matter, how sweet and loving–and rainbow, and sparkly!–everyone around me was…and then I left. I couldn’t take it anymore. I cried behind my sunglasses as I walked under Market Street and down 5th to the employee entrance I walk into every day, no more human and no more entitled than my gay coworkers, awash with simultaneous feelings of glee and guilt.
I could list a hundred reasons why I think “Equality for All!” should be written in the law instead of on t-shirts and MUNI buses, but I won’t. I will only say that I am incredibly grateful to have seen so many happy people in love today, especially the short men in front of me at the parade for their insightful commentary, and that I hope with every single molecule of my being that marriage equality is brought to every state and country as soon as possible. I believe the right to safely be open about who you are, to marry whomever you love, to provide care and shelter to your children, and to will your possessions to or spend your last moments with the love of your life should be afforded to each and every person.
Let’s make this happen. I implore you to stand with me, to speak openly and often about marriage equality and to fight for the civil rights of our gay, lesbian, trans and bi brothers and sisters. And for the love of all that is beautiful and gay in this world, get yourself to San Francisco in the last full weekend in June and join us in this most breathtaking and gayest of cities.