So, the Pear Blossom Festival is a big deal here in Southern Oregon - it's the biggest local, annual parade, also a race (which I was supposed to do tomorrow), and a pageant (not my cup of tea, but whatever, it provides scholarships), etc. Apparently yesterday the Pear Blossom Festival Association denied the Southern Oregon Pride organization entry into this weekend’s parade.

Today, after bad publicity and, apparently, rumors of an investigation by the District Attorney, they changed their minds. But my anger and heartbreak at the initial decision, and comments made in connection with it, remain. Festival President Darcey Mann-Self was reported as saying, “[w]e want to try to get everybody in as possible, because it’s a community event . . . I don’t wanna talk about it on TV. I’m not going to go into any kind of a confrontational thing on TV, because the parade isn’t confrontational." Further, she "explained" that the board felt that Southern Oregon Pride’s entry “doesn’t quite fit” this Saturday’s family affair, and capped it all off by adding, "There’s a parade for them in Ashland." [She is referring to the annual pride parade in Ashland (where I live, known as the liberal town in the area).]

Wow, where to start? Great, they changed their minds, but only because of pressure. It doesn't change the fact that their initial response was (a) that "family-oriented" means no queer presence (right, 'cause gay families aren't families? Gay kids aren't kids? Gay parents aren't parents? Gay grandparents aren't grandparents?), and (b) the comment about the parade in Ashland, a parade for "them." That killed me. Oh, "them." Us. The queer members of your community. Or aren't we? It's a community event, but not for us, not for that part of your community? Not for the gay people who sit next to you at church, teach your kids, drive your buses, make your food, work to make your town a wonderful place to live?

I just feel so ill over this. So sad and heartbroken and angry. You would think that homophobia and bigotry wouldn't even surprise me anymore, and yet somehow it does.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shorty, you are a really good writer with a big heart. Great job.