Reflection on the Wit to Win

Reflection on the Wit to Win

by Mike Morgan

USA Today ran a feature story recently with the headline “Gay Pride parades used to mean protests. Now they’re an excuse for straight kids to party.” They ran opinion from elderly gay men and others regretting how things aren’t like they used to be and how it isn’t right for straight kids to use Gay Pride as an excuse to party. Personally, I (an old white gay man) was thrilled with the news. I remember my first gay pride parade in Nashville way back in the pre-HIV days of the 70’s—the tiny group was rescued from uninteresting only by the participation of the Short Mountain Fairies, who showed up in outlandish costumes—lots of tutus and make-up--and with some outlandish “floats.” I was afraid to be seen watching (but I was intrigued). I didn’t actually participate until years later after AIDS had helped flush us from our closets to form a community.

On the day of the most recent Nashville Gay Pride parade, a neighbor couple told me their 16-year-old daughter was heading off to the parade with a group of friends. They didn’t even say “She’s straight but. . . .“ Yet I believe she is straight. Later, I encountered teenagers and children wearing stickers on their faces with the multi-colors of gay pride. I think of all the LGBTQ people in the world who can party right alongside these young folks without fear of being singled out and this feels like an incredible victory, a change in the tide. It reminds me of a poster I kept for years and years with a charming picture of a man with Down Syndrome sitting shyly on a stool and the caption from “Outwitted,”a poem by Edwin Markham, “But love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle and took him in!” What a wonderful world!

Kris Thresher