My friend and colleague Larry Yang was a Grand Marshall in the San Francisco Pride Parade yesterday and I along with many members of the Spirit Rock Center community and the East Bay Meditation Center walked around and behind the convertible carrying Larry and his husband Stephan. There was a minute of silence called in the middle of the parade in honor and memory of the people killed and injured in Orlando on June 12th, but mainly the mood was joyous and celebratory.
My personal favorite moment was seeing a smiling middle-aged couple, a man and a woman, standing at the front of the crowd lining the parade route, each displaying a large sign. One sign said, “I am a white, Republican, mid-western proud father of a gay man.” The other sign said, “This white, mid-western mother is proud to support her gay son.” I smiled back at them and waved as I passed and hoped they understood that I appreciated what a significant lesson they were providing to the people at the parade as well as those watching on TV. I’m sure they did. I’m sure that’s why they were doing it.
I also noticed that although it was reported that there would be a seriously amplified police presence at the parade, my feeling of being safe throughout had nothing to do with police presence. In fact, apart from overseeing traffic flow at various intersections, I didn’t see a big police presence. I did hear about a contingent of gay members of the San Francisco police force in full uniform marching in the parade. I think the happy mood I felt throughout, and the enduring feeling of being safe, came from being part of the ethos of inclusivity that surrounded me.