Monday, June 22, 2009

Footnotes: Pride 2009

It's done. Pride week 2009 has become history as the summer heat wave takes center stage and many of you move on, continue or stay in holding patterns of your daily lives. Whether you participated or attended any events, ultimately I surely hope that in some manner you took a moment to reflect on your life's journey in "living the life" that has most likely been one of the significant touchstones of your existence. As I moved among you, listening, engaging, encouraging and possibly even enraging, I personally know that despite the variations of our stories, the depths of the struggles to find a sense of acceptance or the complexities of our interactions within that "six degree" paradigm, we can not deny the commonality of our yearning for greater equality as same gender loving humans whom should respect each other as we pursue that same respect overall. Does Pride answer or even address the multi-layers of issues, concerns, constructs or disparities within the community? Probably not. However, with each year's commemoration, at least dialogue should be the order of the day, even among the more lighthearted fare. It's over, but the work for 2010 should be began TODAY and it begins with you....!

Picnic in Pride: After all the local venue activities featuring a mixed bag of shows, masquerading and bar hopping, for myself came Sunday's hastily produced Pride Picnic cobbled together with a determined band of individuals and sponsors. As my partner and myself promoted the event during the week prior, I heard all the yeahs and the nays for this event. Especially those whom mused "yeah, there we go again, Queers in the Park..." or "who planned this thing on Father's day!" All that aside and thank you for sharing all of it with me, the Pride Picnic sojourned on and to our surprise we had a decent turnout although not the massive ATL or SFO mash up's that also a few you didn't mind reminding me about. Now hear this, OF Course NOT, this is Little Rock my people! For the last time, if we had a sizable community with the broad swath of economic impact or committed individuals then "their" would be "here." But instead we had a nice gathering estimated from 125 people, maxing at 200 according to those attempting to count heads as they came and went irregardless the first day of summer heat. The agenda included brief speeches from Legislator Kathy Webb who reminded us of our political strides, candidate Jay Barth forcefully requested those in attendance to become involved in his upcoming campaign and Stonewall Democrat President, J. Lafontaine, urged greater participation in all processes revolving around issues of equality in Arkansas. Meanwhile, the event did it's damnest to be as broad based as it possibly could. There was music, mixing, equality games shepherded by DYSC coordinator, Bryan Olson, A micro RENT theatre troupe which filled the pavilion with acapella music from the famed Puccini' "La Boheme musical, Irish footwork ala Riverdance, Poetry slammers and even musical chairs. During all this interaction, this forum answered the call from organizers and offered our support for co-sponsoring the FREE food to all in attendance. My list of thanks begins with my long time companion, James who was tirelessly involved from the word go. He was toast on Monday. Our friend and co-worker, Michael T. who didn't hesitate when I asked would he assist. Brett E. who immediately signed on as a branded beverage sponsor with only a moment's notice and Charles who delivered Pride cookies from Russellville! My gratitude also goes to those straight allies and vendors who donated for the asking. On the spot, we got additional assistance from DSRA members who helped keep the beverages flowing, Jason for stepping up, all the while I attempted to keep the food coming to those is line. At one point, I thought we were a bit overwhelmed, with a swelling crowd, the line began to snake and our non-professional grill was in overload mode. We appreciated everyone for being patient and understanding as the team kept burgers, hot dogs, and veggie burgers coming for 3 straight hours! For the record, we continued to provide food, even for the very last person who got lost and shared their frustration at not having more detailed directions provided. In clean up mode thanks to all those who stayed behind to assist including Cardinal GLBTQ Advocates, DYSC members and participants that kept us ECO friendly. Believe it or not, there were some community members speculating as to whether we were friendly to Mother Earth. My readers, CorneliusOnpoint, and all those involved have demonstrated that basically there are no "circumstances," except perhaps the Apocalypse itself, that should deter this community from gathering our talented tenth in concert to produce a Pride event. I challenge all of you who attended or want to continue the momentum, let's hear from you starting TODAY. If you didn't attend for whatever reason, then so be it, but I can assure you that despite it all, we discovered that we all had reasons to be PROUD. Many thanks to everyone and there will be pictures posted this week. If you have candid shots to share or videos, comments or observations, as you know, the light is always on....


Anonymous said...

Thank you for all your hard work! I hear you were the grill man! Kept all those hungry folks in food! Thanks for working the heat and helping make the picnic so much fun!

poeticgrin said...

As one who came hungry and left full, I can tell you that you and James did a fantastic job of feeding the crowd. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Anytime you guys do something like that again, let me know and I'll be glad to help. You can get in touch with me through my website,

Bryan Borland
- one of those "slammin' poets" :)