Happy Pride! Beth-El Celebrates on June 18
Be proud of everyone who celebrates diversity in our fair towns. I know I am.
It is impossible to stop coming out. Whenever I meet someone for the first time, I have to consider how and when I will relay the information that I am gay. Will I volunteer the information in an unsolicited manner? “What am I doing this weekend? My partner, Gabriella, and I are finally going on a long over-due date night after we put the kids to bed.” Or will I have to politely correct assumptions with a pronoun adjustment. “Well, she, works in technology. What does your spouse do?”
It’s old hat now, this coming out business. I’m used to it. And, nothing compares to the stress of coming out to my parents when I was in college. I came down with a horrible case of shingles. Needless to say, they did not take the news well, and it took some time for me to feel comfortable in my skin (especially after the shingles).
Would I say that I am proud to be gay? Yes but it’s a tricky one. It’s not as if we are a people, per se, united by a country of origin or a language or philosophical beliefs. We’re just people who are denied equal rights because we don’t have relations with oppositely-gendered people. We don’t have much else in common as a group. Still, I am proud of my family and proud of all those who are true to themselves. If our pride warrants a month of festivities and a big march, I’m all for it.
In the 80s, Pride March in New York City was exactly that--a march. We marched against hatred, and we marched for equal rights. We marched by St. Patrick’s Cathedral and stalled there while the baton-twirling troop performed their impeccably choreographed number in their powder blue uniforms. The protestors at St. Pat’s distracted us from the show as they chanted and pointed fingers and sentenced us to damnation. We chanted back at them as if we could teach them about the meaning of love with catchy phrases.
I don’t think I’ve heard anyone refer to the Pride Parade as a march, anymore. I’m not sure when the Pride March became the Pride Parade, but it’s much more Mardi Gras than liberation movement these days. Of course, as long as there is inequality, there will be factions protesting injustices in our government, our jobs, our schools and our communities. But the overall tone is festive and, well, gay.
In spite of it being a joyous event, our family will not be standing with the sweaty masses in New York City to celebrate our pride. The kids may have a difficult time associating half-naked people and leather gimp suits with family pride. Furthermore, Gabriella and I are not interested in schlepping bags with juice boxes, sun hats, snacks, sun block, changes of clothing in case the boys can’t find a Porto potty in time. In fact, we are not interested in using Porto potties at all. The Pride experience, be it a march or a parade, is just not the same with small children, so we’re taking a pass.
The good news is, we are not without our choice of Pride events here in our bubble of diversity in Northern New Jersey.
On June 18th, Congregation Beth El is hosting an LGBT Ice Cream Social in honor of Pride month for members, non-members and all family make-ups.
Rabbi Francine Roston is committed to creating an open and welcoming community at Beth El. She explained, “We are an egalitarian community and what that means to me is that we believe that all human beings are created in God's image and deserving of sacred status in our community. And it means that we act on that belief. We celebrate our diversity, and we cherish the unique gifts that every individual brings.”
“Well that makes me very proud to be a member, indeed,” I answered. “Will there be rainbow sherbet ice cream?”
“There will be rainbow sprinkles,” she said.
But wait! There’s more!! Come to Memorial Park on June 25th for the first annual Maplewood Pride picnic. See Maplewood Pride on Facebook for details.
I am proud of all the people who celebrate diversity in our area every day. Give yourselves a big pat on the back during this month of pride…and give a gay a hug.