Whether it was the fabulous parade or the sunburn you got watching it, everyone’s got something from this past Pride they’ll remember in the years to come. For you it might have been the hottie you finally shagged or the drug overdose that sent you to the hospital. For me, it was a lone protestor on the edge of a dancefloor.
On the Sunday afternoon of Pride weekend, after the parade, I found myself wandering aimlessly around Church St. I was pulled into a swarm of writhing bodies dancing at the corner of Church and Wellesley. As much as I love to be fondled by strangers, I found myself craving a bit more elbowroom, so I maneuvered my way to the far side of the pit.
Just beyond the barricade stood a man, fiftysomething, bearded and dressed in overalls and a plaid shirt. He was holding a sign that said, “Homosexuality are [sic] sin! According to God words [sic] only solution is Jesus.” It may have been the great tunes the DJ was spinning or the incredible energy of boys and girls getting down and dirty all around me or maybe my magic mushrooms were finally kicking in, but the tears just started to roll.
Not because he was getting me down though. This ignorant asshole with his stupid sign was making me cry tears of joy.
There’s definitely strength in numbers and as one against (literally) a million, this dude didn’t stand a chance. Eager for a little piece of irony, kids were posing next to him and snapping pics with their cell-phone cameras. There were boys playing tonsil hockey, girls feeling each other up and, my personal favourite, a guy standing next to him holding an impromptu sign of his own that read, “His sign is gay.”
The image of this guy, standing alone, holding his sign with six police officers standing around him (I guess they figured he’d get his ass kicked if he was unescorted) with all us partying down around him was the best thing I’d seen all Pride Week.
The fact that we’ve come to the point where we can celebrate our sexuality so freely says something about our culture. It’s not something that should be taken for granted. There are lots of other places in the world — in this country, in fact — where this kind of scene simply could not happen.
One need only look to other Pride festivities taking place around the world this year to see how good we have it in Toronto. In May, the first-ever Moscow Pride Parade took place, despite the mayor’s steadfast opposition to it. The police force was mobilized to arrest parade participants, and neo-Nazi protestors threw rocks. Eventually the marchers had to separate and met up later at a local bar for a “victory” drink. Similar scenes took place in Poland, Latvia, Hungary and Romania.
So, why did the scene in Toronto fill me with overwhelming joy? Because staring at this guy with his sign I realized two things. The first is that he’s probably gay. I don’t know a single queer who hasn’t dealt with some kind of internalized homophobia in connection with their coming out process and this dude is no doubt the same. Too bad, because I know a few bears who would jump his bones in a second.
Not to worry, though. There are guys well into their 70s at the bathhouse every day, and if he ever does come out they’ll be waiting to help him make up for lost time.
The second thing that made me happy? Whether or not he’s going to eventually come out of the closet, regardless of how deep his hate runs, this guy could not find one single person to come and stand with him. That’s something to celebrate.