Thursday, July 10, 2008

Musing About Marching

This guest post is from Jean Hodges, PFLAG's Mountain West Regional Director, and a member of PFLAG Boulder.

Gathering in Cheesman Park for the annual Gay Pride is always a time of excited anticipation of pride-full celebration as well as poignant glimpses of people in pain.

I couldn’t wait to see who would show up to walk with the PFLAG contingent. I was sadly aware of a few regulars who were missing this year, but pleased to welcome Paul Brown and his family visiting from California to be with us. Newcomers from Littleton who want to start a new chapter seemed tentative but pleased to join our hearty group of Colorado PFLAG Chapters.

Signs appeared announcing, “I love my gay child” and variations of slogans for equality. Ron Braun arrived with our enormous Colorado Coalition banner and found four adults and two little kids to carry it. Just behind me, a woman sat in a wheelchair with tears streaming down her face. She was surrounded by family members who all held a large banner carrying a photo of her son and his date of birth and death, 2007. They were there to honor his memory and comfort a grieving mother.

As we began marching through the residential area and on to Colfax Avenue, I found myself walking next to a middle-aged man I’d never seen before. He was waving to onlookers as I was, each of us carrying a sign. He turned to me and said, “Isn’t this just wonderful? I came to this parade last year to watch, but I just decided to walk with PFLAG. See, I was a product of the Sixties so I just had to join in. I couldn’t just stand at the sides.” We walked a few more blocks when he turned me and said, “Ya know, I don’t belong to PFLAG, but I should. I want to be a part of this ….I mean, like a member.” And he handed me a twenty dollar bill….now he decided, he was really a part of PFLAG.

I always look among the crowds to see facial reactions. Lots of smiles and cheers. Deafening applause and echoes of “thank you” follow us. But I saw one young woman by the sidewalk looking down and sobbing as we passed.I broke out of our line and ran over to her to just hug her in silence for a few seconds before I ran back to our group. Those are the people I march for, someone who needs to know that PFLAG is there for them.

Walking with PFLAG is mostly exhilarating and no one did more to make us feel that than Cathy Gaffney and her Kung-fu friends. She made up a song which they all sang lustily as we made our way down Colfax to the Capitol: “We’re all family. We’re all family. We’re PFLAG----rock on…” Shouting their lungs out and they are straight allies! Thanks Cathy and all the good people who joined the parade or staffed the booth and made us feel proud once again to know we are PFLAG and that we make a difference. We will rock on!

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