This weekend, in what may be a completely foolish move, I’ve committed to attending both the Boston Pride Parade (Saturday) and the Albany Pride Parade (Sunday). Last year I only made it to Boston, and recuperated on Sunday (not really necessary, but a nice buffer). This year I’ve agreed to judge the Albany Pride Parade floats (I assume) so I have to be there. No guarantee on my status or outfit (I haven’t had time to do up two pride costumes, so the Albany one is decidedly simpler. In fact, it’s probably the simplest thing I’ve ever worn in public – and those are usually the ones that make the biggest splash – think Madonna at Cannes circa 1991.)
The parade always reminds me of a story I’ve told here before. While working at the Rotterdam Structure over summer break, I encountered a co-worker who had only met one other gay person in all his life. He was well-built, wore tight t-shirts and gold chains, and had the Italian guido look down pat (and I mean that in the best possible way.) On our first shift together we were folding shirts when he asked me if I liked parades. It was out of the blue, not related to anything else going on, and I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly.
“Umm, not particularly,” I answered. “Why did you ask me that?”
He proceeded to explain that his Uncle, who was gay, always liked parades, and he wondered if all gay guys did. His genuine and earnest, if slightly stereotypical, question touched me. He was not saying it any derogatory or mean way, he was genuinely curious and wanted to expand his understanding. I will never ridicule anyone for inquisitiveness.
I do still have a chuckle at the whole exchange, but that’s the sort of thing that brings people together, bridging our differences and forming a bond beneath the common joy of laughter. In the same way that I lumped him into what I viewed as a classic Italian Stallion stereotype and had to reconsider my views when he turned into a sensitive person, so too did he manage to reconfigure his take based on his limited experience with gay people.