Monday, September 29, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

Protesters mark another successful NC Pride celebration in Durham.

2008 NC Pride logo

We had another successful NC Pride this past Saturday at Duke Campus in Durham.

Despite fears of storms and winds from a tropical storm earlier in the week, it was mostly sunny with some welcome clouds, comfortably temperate though occasionally verging on warm, and without a bit of rain. Thousands of people came out, including a ton of families with kids.

Apparently there were also some protesters. I, however, neither saw nor heard them. (In fairness, I did not get to march in the parade.)

I know the Pride folks were aware of the protesters – or at least the possibility of them – from the get-go. When I got there at all-too-early-AM to help set-up a couple of booths (and who knew so many gay people could be up and about so soon in the day!), I asked about parking. One of the volunteers told me, “Honey, park right across the street over there. That’s normally where the protesters line up, but this year we thought we’d make them go farther away by using it as parking.” As far as I can tell, that worked well.

I always dislike it when the protesters come. ENC generally pushes for non-engagement when we encounter them, which I think is the best way to go. Honestly, when is there ever a productive dialogue with protesters?

[As a related sidenote, here’s an article on an interesting study: “There's No Arguing With Conservatives ... No, Seriously, Scientific Studies Prove It.”

This was just recently released from Yale, and one of the main researchers is a Ph.D. student at Duke.]

I don’t like having them around simply because I find them so mean-spirited. Now that my partner and I have our 6-year-old kid, I find it particularly problematic considering some of the things they say around him. (Sure, we can’t insulate him from reality, but come on, he’s just a child – let him have his childhood innocence!)

I console myself with this thought: For several years Pride did not have protesters, and now suddenly they’re popping up again. This is a great sign of change, progress, and societal development.

Any time you have a conflict of elements (like fire encountering water), you tend to have a dramatic superficial reaction (boiling) as the elements change states (water to steam).

I like to view the protesters as the boiling water – as we move closer to fairness for LGBT folks, there’ll be more of an obvious reaction, but soon we’ll all get to enjoy a new state.

And it’s going to be a state of equality.

-T. Shawn Long

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