This year I found myself in Motor City’s Hart Plaza as I looked out over Michigan’s Detroit Pride festival. On one of the stages a girl with silver sequin for hair danced in pink platform shoes and sang her trance music to the crowd. At another end, rows of tents were lined up delivering messages like: GOD CARES EQUALLY and also: THERE LIKELY IS NO GOD, SO BE WHO YOU ARE. People ran around in rainbow colored clothing, fuzzy legwarmers and strap-on angel wings. Part rave, part reunion…
“Pride is a series of hugs, photo opps and overpriced drinks,” I summarized for my company as we made our way through the crowd.
“Pretty much,” a coworker laughed back at me.
Some girls from work let me carpool with them so I could complete my duties at our business network’s booth but we had run out of rubber bracelets and pamphlets before noon. The corporate guy in his fifties turned the late shift loose and told us to “go have fun” – that he would report back and say we’d done our jobs.
Music thumped from every corner as a girl in her bikini hula-hooped on the lawn for no one in particular and everyone at once. Behind me a man dressed as a woman was lip syncing and collecting dollar bills from everyone’s hands.
“Every gay girl went through that phase,” Theresa said, seemingly unimpressed with the drag queens.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Every girl got up on stage, like, at a bar or something and lip synced to music. I don’t know why. It was kinda stupid. Then we grew out of it. Didn’t you do that at least once?”
I answered, “No; I’ve always been able to sing.”
For the first time in my workplace’s history, LGBT news has been included on our public community board due to my involvement. My goal is to better cater to our customers and create a sense of mutual loyalty.
The moment I’d spotted the flyer for the network, I thought, “I can paint a rainbow. Shoot. ROYGBIV. Done.”
My silent observation during these times of participation have made me realize that some accomplishments are trickier than others. Some medals are heavier. They are the meaningful things, the little things, the incredible.
I watched one strong, beautiful girl slow her step on the concrete ground. She stopped to extend her arm, offering her hand to her partner, and it was truly a moment when their hands met. Seemingly typical, it dawned on me that a gesture so simple was something they were not able to do freely on any other day.
Perhaps ROYGBIV is simple for me as I develop. But there are many colors in between the layers of a rainbow that leave questions unanswered. So many hearts broken. The separation of person from doctrine. Many families torn. I wonder what conclusions I will reach at the end of all of this.
The drag queen who had been collecting money from the audience returned center stage. She threw her arms ups and released fistfuls of cash that floated down like confetti.