I mentioned before that I didn’t want to restrict the topics of this blog – I’ve tried that before, blogging on a single theme, and inevitably I have other things that I want to natter about and so I either feel like I’m going off topic or I just trail off of posting because what I want to post about doesn’t seem to fit the space. The title “JJ Does Today” seemed fitting, both in its openness and in its hint of where I’ve been going with my life – trying to do a better job of getting more out of each day; giving more to each day.
And man did we ever do the shit out of yesterday.
Yesterday was Pride – and I’m pretty sure Pride this year is the 21st anniversary of my first ever Pride Fest. There weren’t parades where I grew up, but we had a festival every year and the summer I turned 18 was my first one. I was so freaking excited – just being at this event that celebrated the awesomeness of the parts of me that so many other people were telling me were shameful was overwhelmingly joyful. To this day I still get a hit of that mojo at Pride – it’ll never be as heady as it was when I was a teenager, nothing ever is, but seeing so many people celebrating and reveling and being their beautiful, queer, sometimes mundane, sometimes over-the-top and sometimes thoroughly weird selves – their proud selves, no matter where they fall – still chokes me up every time.
We watched the parade, then headed to the festival – they had more security this year which I appreciated, but it meant for a longish wait to get inside, which was still fun and heartening – it was great that so many people were willing to wait and it was hilarious hearing some of the chants people came up with to troll the inevitable handful of protesters, some of whom had signs protesting truly odd and specific sins – one guy had a sign with an extremely detailed list of the types of people facing hellfire. Apparently you’re going to hell if you’re a sports fan, or a country music fan? Who knew? One guy had a big sign protesting the evils of “Homo Sex” and so at one point the crowd just chanted “Homo sex! Homo sex!” I was a fan of that one.
We didn’t stay terribly long – it was hot and crowded and we had another event to go to in the evening, and spending a long chunk of time at Pride is really best if you’ve got a crew to hang with. We ran into a few friends and there were a few others that we knew were there that we didn’t run into, but everyone was going in their own directions. We listened to the gay men’s chorus sing (including Let It Go with a drag Elsa) and I bought a Human Rights Campaign “Love Conquers Hate” tank top and a new set of freedom rings (though no one calls them that anymore – young queer folk never have any idea what I’m talking about when I say “freedom rings”) just because seeing them brought back so much nostalgia. Mostly I was thrilled just to be there and soak up the vibes for a while.
(And I gotta say, when I saw that there was an FBI booth recruiting folks for jobs I was so tempted to go up to them and say “Lordy, I didn’t expect to see you here!”)
In between events I ran to the co-op to grab some groceries and I saw our wonderful badass mayor – I see her there from time to time and I’ve always been too shy to introduce myself, but yesterday was a brave day. I was thinking about how I’d met her at Pride years ago, the first time she campaigned for mayor (she lost that time, and didn’t try again for a few years), and how much I appreciate having a mayor that makes me proud – and that regularly shows up at Pride. So I went up to her and awkwardly and gushingly told her that I thought she was awesome and thanked her for helping me to be proud of my city. I kept it short, I didn’t want to bug her too much while she was just trying to get her groceries, but she seemed to appreciate it – I can’t imagine anyone minds too much being stopped so that someone can tell them that they’re awesome.
The second event of the day was World Refugee Day – Matthew and I do volunteer work for Bridge Refugee Service from time to time and we’d offered to help out at this event. We had no idea what we’d end up doing, these things almost always end up being full of surprises with Bridge, and last night was no exception. We ran a few errands carrying things and setting things up, but then they asked us if we’d help another volunteer get a soccer game started for any kids that might want to join in while their parents were looking at booths or listening to the musicians. I should mention that neither of has any idea how to play soccer or knows anything about the rules. Fortunately Brandon, the other volunteer that we were working with, was more knowledgeable than us – and a bit less awkward with kids. It took a little while for it to catch on, but in time we had a good number of kids coming and going from the “game,” which was really just a bunch of kicking and running around.
There were kids from literally all over the world on that field. At one point they decided that the loosely-defined teams were England and Brazil. I think I was supposed to be on the England team but I’m not sure – at one point they tried to get Matthew and I to be the refs but then they realized how hopeless we were at actually knowing the rules. So we ran around, kicked balls, kept an eye on them, listened to them be rowdy and high spirited – and there was definitely something a bit magical about being out on that field with kids who look so very different from each other, watching them tumbling and cheering while listening to musicians from various countries, then listening to the raffle numbers translated into multiple different languages, on a warm summer evening with the sun setting and folks from all around the community celebrating the bravery of these people who have brought their families here through struggles I can only imagine.
There was a lot of Pride of various kinds in my day yesterday. And amusingly enough, the last musician did a cover of Born This Way, which of course we’d heard at the Pride Parade – it was a fitting way to bookend the day.
When the event was over we helped clean up – there was a lot of running around and carrying; we were both definitely wiped out by the end of the day, but it was an exhaustion full of all sorts of good vibes. I’ve been ending more days like that lately – exhausted, but filled up. It’s a good kind of change.