A Queer Afternoon in Seattle
By Hans Zeiger
Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood is a customarily liberal place. But I didn't realize just how bad it is until I sat in a Capitol Hill pizza parlor conversing with friends last Sunday afternoon as civilization fell.
Outside the window, a bare-chested chubby man held hands with a man in a flowery dress as they walked by. I caught a glimpse of Super Man as he glided up the sidewalk. A burly man clad in a leather skirt stood around resembling ancient Roman guards, while a leather thonged man with black leather cap strolled across Madison Avenue toward a 21-and over Budweiser drinking orgy in a closed-off street.
I had forgotten that Sunday was Seattle's Gay Pride celebration. Had I remembered, perhaps we would have scheduled the meeting in more family-friendly parts.
But curious about the state of the culture war, the four of us young Right Wing bigoted Christian conservatives finished pizza and headed out to observe the day's festivities.
Nothing on the Right compares to the pomp and perversity of a Gay Pride celebration in a major liberal city. Across the country, huge celebrations were held in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Portland, and other corners of Blue America, or rather, Pink America. It was the commemoration of the Stonewall riots that broke out in a Manhattan gay bar in 1969. Somewhere around 100,000 people were in Seattle for Stonewall Day.
Sunday morning, when Red America was in church, tens of thousands of Pink Seattleites had lined the streets from Broadway to 10th Street to Prospect Street as the Seattle Pride Parade floated by. The usual suspects marched in the parade - mostly naked men, bright gaudily dressed transvestites, Dikes on Bikes, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. And there were the newlyweds, thousands more of which were gathered together for a celebration in San Francisco.
Major corporations were to be seen in the parade and the festival as well. Washington Mutual Bank touted a float with a banner reading, "Free Checking and the Freedom to be Yourself." In Volunteer Park on the other side of town, such companies as Boeing, Safeco Insurance, and Honda distributed literature about their outreach efforts to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders.
En route to Volunteer Park, we passed a woman with two small children; I overheard her answer to some apparent childish question about the nature of families and canines. "Some dogs are gay. Some dogs are straight. We all have to just recognize that some dogs are different, just like people are different," she told the innocent children. Indoctrination, recruitment, movement building: they do a good job at it.
Among the hundreds of booths and displays at the festival: Log Cabin Republicans, NARAL, ACLU, John Kerry for President, the Socialist Party, PFLAG, Queer Sports, some pornography shops, the sexual orientation quilters, the transgender solidarity support group, and other veritable causes of that sort.
And there were several churches represented, "out" as they say, in full force. Open and affirming, ecumenical, hope, light, peace, unity. But not the Bible. This is not the land of the Puritans anymore. John Winthrop, on seeing the good and simple things of America, might declare this a shining city on a hill, but with certain conditions like, "Seattle and San Francisco and all the other big cities are bywords among the nations."
If we aren't a byword yet, we will be if the prophets of The Advocate magazine are correct. The June 22 issue of The Advocate asks its readers to imagine the America of 2054, when gays can marry without stigma, gays can join the military, gays are in the White House and in the NFL, and on and on.
A basic knowledge of history indicates that The Advocate has pronounced false prophecy. Nations and cultures cannot survive when marriage collapses.
The statesman Daniel Webster declared that marriage is the foundation of a healthy society, without which society cannot endure: "The sanctity of the nuptial bond, is, in my opinion, one of the principal, if not the chief cause of the superior refinement, freedom, and prosperity enjoyed at the present time by Christian nations."
But divorce has long since been availed as an everyday sort of thing. And we all know that the proposed constitutional Defense of Marriage Amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman will do nothing but indicate that our character as a people is lacking the virtue requisite for the very preservation of constitutional government. An amendment will not make us a more moral people, it will only testify of our pathetic decadence.
As we shuffled through Volunteer Park by the Human Rights Campaign mega-tent with signs reading something like "Anybody but Bush," a young woman with a clipboard and a petition stepped forth to ask if I would like to sign HRC's petition to stop the Religious Right in Congress from passing a Defense of Marriage Amendment. "No, that's okay," I replied, anxious to move on.
But probing further, she asked if I was familiar with HRC, if I knew what the Defense of Marriage Amendment was, if I'd even heard of gay marriage. After I replied yes to each question, she continued, "Why don't you want to sign it then?"
"Well, I'm a conservative and I believe in the traditional bond of marriage."
One would have thought I had just announced I was going to murder her. She acquired the nastiest of glares and stared me down as I walked on. Then, still looking in my direction a couple minutes later, she appeared to inform her fellows that an infidel had just passed through.
This most lovely attitude, I suppose, is what they call tolerance.