Reflecting on Pride Parade 2012
By Darrell Montavon
Every person who has ever lived was born atheist. By that, they were born without any notion of religion,acreator, sin, heaven or hell. We were taught the religion of our parents in the same way we learned their language, their politics and their culture. Similarly, we are taught the gender identity of our culture. Girls are given dolls while boys are given action figures and both are directed to find attraction in the opposite sex. But not all do. Some are born with a variety of attractions and identities; same-sex, both or somewhere in between. There are many similaries between the atheist and gay communities, from the fear of coming out to family and the impending isolation to the thrill of boldly exploring a new and exciting world rooted in honesty to ones self. Its these similarities, along with many others, that make the atheist and gay communities natural allies.
On June 16th, 2012 twelve members of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio braved 90 degree temperatures on a perfect June afternoon to join scores of local area businesses, groups, politians, churches and schools to march the 1.3 miles from the State House to Goodale Park. We marched as citizens, side-by-side, in unanimous support of the LGBT community. We marched as family, for our mothers and fathers, our sisters and brothers, our sons and, in my personal case, my daughter. We marched as Humanists, through a sea of an estimated 230,000 people, because we know what its like to be shunned and scared for the crime of being honest with one's self. Because we know that "community" means simply "you are not alone".
The 31st annual Columbus Gay Pride was an amazing event. The outpouring of love and support was at times overwhelming. As we passed the Convention Center and could see all the way up High Street through the Short North, it was impossible to tell who was marching in the parade and who was watching. It was just one huge crowd of rainbows, signs and cheers. Unlike typical parades, people would run out in to the street to hug family and friends as they passed by. Everyone was there for everyone. We even saw several "Gaytheist" signs, reminding us of the strong connection between our communities.
As the proud father of a 20 year old lesbian daughter, the Pride Parade was particularly poignant for me. Yes, the overall purpose of events such as this is to win the hearts and minds of the general public. Judging from the outpouring of support witnessed on Saturday, I am confident that I will one day walk my daughter down the aisle for her to marry her girlfriend. But more importantly, as any straight ally or parent of an LGBT child will attest, the parade, the rallies, the ubiquity of gay characters in t.v. and movies mean times are changing. Every time our LGBT friends and family go on a date, go to the club or simply leave the house, the fear of bigotry and hatred goes with them. We walk the fine line of letting them be free and worrying how others will react. I care about my child's civil rights but I demand her safety. It's events like the Pride Parade that reassure me that my daughter and her fellow members of the LGBT community are gaining support, acceptance and security.
In the end, we poured in to Goodale Park, hot and sweaty but no worse for the wear. We watched the crowd of supporters and well-wisher dwindle as the line for the lemonade stand grew. As two police officers walked slowly past us, talking quietly and eating corndogs, we paused to consider how far Columbus has come since the first parade in 1981. After a few minutes of checking out the booths of local businesses, my wife and I headed home leaving our daughter to socialize and enjoy the one day a year when they are the majority and where there is no hatred or bigotry, just community.
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