There are so many reasons why I try to attend Pride Pittsburgh every year. There are countless things I could tell you about why I support equal rights. But at the end of the day, what it all comes down to is selfishness.
I’d like to say it’s selfless, my passion for the cause, but that wouldn’t be true. Sure, I’m not gay. No one in my family is gay. I’ve never been discriminated against based on my sexuality, so, okay: it could seem like I am just looking out for others.
But the reality is I’m just looking out for myself. And I’ve said it before, perhaps more eloquently than now.
I don’t ever want to have to feel an ounce of pain if my son turns out to not fall into the “norm”. If he isn’t the typical straight white male that he most likely will be, I don’t want him to worry. I don’t want to feel the pain of having to explain to him why someone was mean to him. I don’t want to cry over the fact that he will be discriminated against based on something that is just who he is.
He’s my everything. My entire world. It’s hard enough explaining to him why there were people that made me very angry at the festival. “Some people are mean to other people, and that makes Mommy angry and sad at the same time. Those people? They are being very mean to many of the people here at the event, and they are being mean simply because they think the people here are different and that different is bad.” He doesn’t know what sexuality is yet, so he didn’t understand the context of it all. He gets the gist, though. He knows that you aren’t mean to people because they are different. My four year old can state why we aren’t mean to people and yet here were grown men attacking nearly everyone at a mostly celebratory event.
And then there is us: a man, a woman, and their child. And…I was attacked. Not physically, but verbally. I was told that I am a terrible parent for bringing my son to a place full of such “abominations” and “terrible people”. I was told that a good parent would never be there. That letting my son be around these people would harm him.
My blood pressure rose, I was shaking, I told them that they were the disgusting ones. It took everything in my power to not say more. To not get into it. It wasn’t worth it, and I couldn’t do that to my oblivious child.
We watched the parade, but not for very long. Alex was tired, hot, and, honestly, bored. He had no real idea why we were there. He just wanted lemonade and toys.
And for that I am thankful. I can only hope that the coming years bring more change. That I never have to explain to Alex why some of his favorite people in the world are not able to marry the people the love. Why some of the closest adults in his life are ridiculed, discriminated against in the workplace, yelled at on the street.
It’s all selfish. I don’t want to deal with the pain anymore.