June 23, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 25
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Saturday, Dec 07, 2019



General Gayety by Leslie Robinson
Putting one foot in front of the other
It occurred to me it would be a nice idea to march in this June's Pride parade. But I haven't completely signed off on the idea. I guess I better sort this out right now. If I wait any longer, it could be the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade I find myself in.

In my early years of being out, I marched a fair bit. I have fond and strange memories of participating in the mid-'90s. I remember marching exuberantly down Main Street in New Hampshire's state capital-cheered on by a crowd numbering in the tens. There were more dogs marching than spectators.

And I remember Boston, where the parade organizers placed my sedate lesbian social group right behind a float featuring a drag queen in red vinyl strapped to a revolving wheel. We had a walk with a view.

I found just going to Pride empowering, but marching made it more vital, intense. And calorie-efficient.

In 2000 I moved to Seattle, and although I've done a couple of Dyke Marches here, I haven't walked in the Pride parade. Maybe the fact that I've been out longer has dulled the desire. Or the fact that my job is writing for the gay press inclines me to think I gave at the office.

I do know that if you're in the parade you can't see the parade. (Except in New Hampshire-after walking down Main St. we executed a U-turn and walked right back up. In the process, everybody saw everybody. A saving grace, considering how few spectators we had to look at.)

Especially as a newbie to Seattle, I wanted to see the whole parade, and find out what was going on in this city I'd chosen to call home. Now I tend to watch the entire thing as much out of a journalistic impulse, to see which politicians are trawling for our support, which ethnic groups are represented, and how many pieces of candy I can catch. Okay, so that one's not exactly journalistic, but it takes energy to watch the parade closely, y'know?

I also wait for the bitter end because I feel for those stationed at the tail of the parade, who waited a long time to walk, shuffle, roll, hop, wheel, skip their way down the route, and are met by yawns and glazed eyeballs, or worse, hundreds of people streaming into their path, who firmly want to believe the parade is over and nothing is more critical than getting to the festival and its portable potties.

This year I'm willing to skip the role of Queen Victoria reviewing the troops, and march myself. I read in my church's bulletin that members planned to march in Pride, but only after someone pressed a flyer in my hand one Sunday did the idea penetrate that I might be among them. Clearly I'd fallen well out of the marching habit and into a candy-induced coma.

But now I again hear the call of the march; it sounds like John Philip Sousa jamming with the Village People. I hear it because I'm newly out once more-as a churchgoer, a shift in my identity that surprises me more than my turning out to be a lesbian ever did.

I also hear one of the middle-aged men sitting in front of me during last year's parade. As members of a church walked past, he remarked to his friends, "I want to belong to that church," a catty comment about the members' lack of looks.

The overall message of Pride is unity, but oh don't we also split along some very human fault lines that day.

Anyway, I've decided. I'm marching. To celebrate being a gay Unitarian. I just hope we have good candy.

Leslie Robinson also hopes she won't trip. E-mail her at, and visit her website at

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