GLBT businesses, community, protestors at Bellingham Pride
GLBT businesses, community, protestors at Bellingham Pride
by John Griffin - SGN Contributing Writer

I don't know how the practice of having Gay Pride on different dates in different cities began, but it's great! This past weekend, another exciting chapter in celebrating Pride 2008 was written in Bellingham, Washington. The chance for people to participate in Pride - not only in their hometown, or in a nearby major city, but in a number of locales - is available for many who would have to make a difficult travel decision otherwise.

Bellingham's Second Annual Gay Pride Parade began at the high school with - who else could it be - the Dykes on Bikes, and continued down to the Market Square for the Seventh Annual Gay Pride Festival in the city. The Rainbow City Band provided the marching music for the many organizations, businesses, and elected officials that took the opportunity to show their colors.

The Pride Committee was chaired by Robin Lynn this year; other members were Lonny Vinge, Marcia Leishman, Carl Nyblade, Betty Desire, David Lindsey, and Nick Milhoan. "We're very happy to have this here," Milhoan said, his comments difficult to hear over the exuberant background noise. "Obviously Pride is something that's very important to all of us here in Bellingham; and we just want to make sure that people know that & although the festivals in Seattle and Vancouver are extremely important and wonderful, that it's great to let people know that they are accepted, and loved, and can have a sense of belonging here in Bellingham; and they don't have to leave the most wonderful, incredible, fantastic community; that there are people here that love everybody and accept everybody and we just want everybody to have a good time."

I made my usual circuit of the exhibitors to get comments. Two of them introduced me to things I hadn't been aware of previously. Marcy Mjelde of the Muljat Group Realtors, a longtime rights advocate, reported that she and her domestic partner have gotten their California marriage license and are going to participate in a mass marriage in San Diego hosted by Olivia (women's vacation cruises), followed by a honeymoon cruise on the Mexican Riviera (October 4-11). Margo Thibodeau was there representing Sean Humphrey House, which provides for the needs of patients dealing with HIV/AIDS in the Bellingham area, regardless of their ability to pay.

The speakers kept their comments short and let the performers entertain. On the program for everyone's enjoyment were Diva Licious, Amber Darland, Sarah, Betty Desire, Keenan, Death by Radio, Rebecca Valrejean, and Ignition. They kept it lively and loud, doing their best (which was more than good enough) to maintain the city's reputation as a party town.

At this event the protesters were evident. I took the opportunity to speak to one of them. He was completely preoccupied with sex. His specific references to sexual devices and other products demonstrated a keen interest in all aspects of erotica. Further, he believes that all men are ruled by those desires when it comes to relationships. Logic dictates that that must be how interpersonal relationships should be established. "Women should not lead, that's a fact," he said, in regard to Christine Gregoire. "They've got big mouths, but they can't lead." When asked to make a statement for the Seattle Gay News, he said, "This is a message to those who are sodomites, and homosexuals and Lesbos: Jesus Christ is wanting you to go to heaven, not to hell. I want you to go to heaven, but if you insist on your unnatural & perverted acts, you know where you're going."

It was impossible for him to believe that any homosexual relationship could have any foundation beyond an animal drive to satisfy physical urges. He called me a liar when I tried to explain to him that the physical side of a relationship does not have to enter into an effort to establish a serious bond between two people of the same sex. Obviously he has never known anyone who spent decades seeking a meaningful Gay relationship, giving in to the physical enjoyment only when the possibility of a serious involvement seemed present. He certainly hasn't witnessed someone who hoped for years that a friendship might turn into mutual love. And long after the possibility of carnal love had passed, only to end with months of attending the bedside of the dying friend, finally to hear the words, "I love you," mere hours before his final breath. When I tried to give him some concept of that kind of emotional attachment between two men, he said that I was so depraved that I couldn't see the truth, and he couldn't even waste time talking to me. Thank you for those three words, my beloved; they finally gave me an enjoyment beyond that which I found in the comfort of grieving.

To end on an upbeat note, I had a great time at Bellingham Pride with my loving partner, Joey, who is the love I found after 30 years of waiting and hoping.