Better Gay Than Grumpy

This slogan from a Pride event sign reminded me of an old Andy Rooney commentary in which he really summed up the problem with the country’s culture warriors.  “I don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong,”Rooney said, “but I do know who I’d rather invite over to dinner.”

I thought about Rooney’s observation yesterday, when I attended Indianapolis’ Gay Rights Parade. It was a huge affair–a far cry from the very first one, which I also attended, and which consisted of perhaps six floats and an audience of a few hundred. Over the years, the parade and audience have grown dramatically, and yesterday there were thousands of people cheering what seemed like hundreds of floats.

What struck me about the crowd–both those marching, and those crowded onto the sidewalks lining the route–was its diversity and good humor. There were young people and old, black and white, gay and straight. There were parents pushing strollers and people sporting tattoos, buttoned-down preppies and female impersonators. I saw colleagues from the University and waiters from local watering holes. Everyone seemed to be having a great time.

In a pleasant departure from previous years, the grumpy culture warriors didn’t send representatives with signs warning of eternal damnation (at least I didn’t see any), but they had issued their usual dark warnings about moral depravity and the End of Western Civilization as We Know It, accompanied by sour descriptions of the “debauchery” sure to be on display in what they characterized as a celebration of “deviance” and sin.

As usual, they were wrong. What was actually being celebrated was love, inclusion and human equality.

From the elderly Veterans for Equal Rights, to the numerous churches participating (this year, I think the United Methodists and the Episcopalians outnumbered the Unitarians, and there were at least two United Church of Christ congregations represented), to the banks and businesses and neighborhood associations, the message was clear: we value all our fellow citizens.

All three political parties were represented. Indianapolis Mayor Ballard, a Republican, was Grand Marshall. Joe Hogsett, the Democratic candidate for Mayor, walked with a large group of supporters, and Chuck Brewer, his Republican opponent, had a contingent. Bill Levin, who recently established the “Church of Cannabis,” rode atop the Libertarian Party’s large float, and a number of other politicians–from City-County Council candidates to Congressman Andre Carson–were prominent.

The impressive list of parade participants aside, it was a grand party. Everywhere I looked, people were smiling, hugging, cheering…just having a great time on a sunny day with lots of other people who had come to support their neighbors and friends and to promote lovingkindness and civil equality.

Given a choice between the judgmental scolds thundering about (their constipated version of ) Godliness and Righteousness, and the people at the parade, I think I know who most of us would prefer to invite to dinner.


  1. It is wonderful that the celebration and the parade have grown so. I noticed last night that two of our TV stations did not notice that the event took place. Two of the others thought it was a drag queen event as they only showed and spoke with drag queens. We are still not there but it is better. And the Star, good grief. The day before they dragged out photos of nearly naked boys on a float and yet more drag queen photos. Same stuff…. Different day.

  2. Your message says what was actually being celebrated was love, inclusion and human equality. I like the whole message. What I don’t understand about some people who talk about the above, is that they also differentiate by stating that they have Gay friends, African-American friends, Lesbian friends, etc. Why can’t a person simply have friends? That says it all! Human kindness includes kindness to all and it doesn’t matter who they are so why categorize? Support neighbors and friends and promote loving kindness and civil equality to all!

  3. Very nicely said, Sabra. I did notice one name missing from Sheila’s list of those celebrating, loving, sharing and enjoying the day – evidently that expensive PR firm from NYC didn’t believe Pence putting in an appearance would help his reputation:)

  4. Most of us know mostly just plain nice people. Diverse to be sure (I even have conservative science denying friends) but the kind of people that you laugh, drink and eat with.

    Most of the other kind I learn about from media. I’m sure that they exist but not apparently in my circles.

    But we are not so good sometimes when it comes to scale. One nut ball reference in the morning paper sometimes balances 100 pleasant conversations the rest of the day. In fact if I avoided the media all together I’d probably have a pretty high opinion of the human race.


  5. This is directed to Pete & Sheila:

    Pete. You will remember the scene in the original Jurassic Park in which the prof., when informed that the creations were same sexed, prophesied that “life would find a way”? So it might be with this thing we call Earth. We can agree that it is a closed system but just how closed? It just could be that the system has a high degree of mechanisms by which to control and perpetuate its existence. If so, it would be evident that its most urgent concern is human population control. Seeing we are too stupid to accomplish that, is it possible that Mother Earth is evolving us into same sex? Close examination over the past fifty years would indicate so

    Now Sheila: what you doing knowing bar keeps?

  6. Shelia,
    No nits to pick. No quibbles to quib. Just, YES, wow, thanks. I was there and you described it exactly.

  7. Earl, one of your points that makes complete sense to me is that life will continue evolving in ways that insure survival. Not of any species but life in total.

    I personally believe that homo sapien sapien will be among the survivors even though we are the biggest threat to other species.

    Not much else is very certain in my mind because I keep getting reminded about how stupid we are collectively. We readily conceive of heroic plans but our collective execution is dismal at best.

    The brief period that we regard as modernity will go down in history as a night of drunken revelry so besotted were we on cheap unlimited energy and entertainment that we forgot that tomorrow comes right on schedule despite our illusion of control.

    What will this future look like? Being out of control optimistic I think of the end of WWII song with an unforgettable melody cradling post apocalyptic lyrics including “when bluebirds fly over the white cliffs of Dover” and goes onto to worship a world at peace following years of untold destruction.

    Can that dream repeat, especially considering that it’s still unfulfilled?

    Boy do I so want to believe so.

    But realistically…………….

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