However, today I took the day off for something truly special, to go to my small Oklahoma town's first gay pride event; a community picnic complete with music and bounce castles and rainbows everywhere. The biggest surprise was not the absence of protesters but the overwhelming turnout of supporters. I was only there for a couple hours, don't have a real headcount but we filled that little park, probably more than 300 people came while I was there.
Those of you in larger cities that have been holding gay pride events since the 60's probably can't appreciate the historical and cultural significance of this happening in our town. Just trust us, it is moving beyond belief. Gay is still a bad word, so taboo in our "neck of the woods" and I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say it's still considered a sin by most. To see such a gathering, a peaceful and fun event, with people of all ages, well it gives hope to those of us still marginalized. Before today I bet most gay people in this area assumed the only option they had for a happier life was to leave, I know I felt that way, and I have tried to leave. Imagine feeling like you had to choose between your family, friends, and lifetime of memories and potentially live out your life in hiding, or leave everything and everyone you know behind for a chance at living a more authentic life. I bet most gay kids growing up in small towns, especially in the south, feel like they are forced to make this choice.