Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2005
Dear Diary:

"Do you think we should tell my dad that they're going to show mom screwing on tee vee?" the daughter
chortled to nearby friends.

Go have children.

I offered to come into Montreal and help my daughter who had volunteered to work on her company's float in the gay pride parade Monday night.

When I uttered the word "help" I thought that when I showed up people would take one look at my white hair and say, "Ma'am, no need to do anything more strenuous than sipping water. No. Really. We have it under control."

Well, things were a little less under control than I hoped. This was the first pride float ever for the company. It was totally volunteer. Actual carpentry skills varied.

How much did they vary? Let's just say that most of the people there were far, far more comfortable with a computer keyboard than power tools.

Much like myself.

I do my very darndest to avoid carpentry work at all costs. The way I see it, when you marry a carpenter, as I did, you're automatically issued a Get Out Of Building Stuff Free Card.

Sadly, at the time of my marriage I was not actually issued this mythical Get Out Of Building Stuff Free Card. Thus, when the daughter and I showed up at the float graveyard and it became clear this was an all hands on deck situation, I Had To Do Actual
WORK.

I know. I'm as sick about this as you are.

The tee vee crews happened to show up once when I was bracing wood for my daughter to saw. The sight of a young woman competently wielding a skillsaw is apparently a big deal because much footage was shot of the daughter doing that.

Another crew showed up while I was screwing plywood to the top of a section of the float and again that was shot in great detail.

So yes, the spousal unit might have seen me screwing on tee vee.

Oh, and don't think that sight wouldn't shock him, because it would. I do my very darndest to avoid involvement in our own construction projects and plead 99 kinds of ignorance at the drop of the hat.

Not because I am a malingerer, you understand. Malingerer is such an ugly word. I prefer to think of it as being ambition challenged.

Hopefully the Marn doing actual construction footage wasn't used. It strikes me that if the spousal unit should actually see anything coming remotely close to competence with carpentry tools I am in such deep doo doo.

When the daughter and I pleaded heat stroke at 5 p.m. the float was far from done, but we were beat. I wasn't sure what we would see at 8 p.m. when we came back from scrubbing off sweat, sawdust and sunscreen to march in Pride itself.

Well, the remaining crew did it and my cowboy hat goes off to them. (Yes, I wore an oversized white plastic cowboy hat to Pride because nothing quite says "aging gracefully" like the sight of an oversized white plastic cowboy hat on the head of a 54-year-old woman.)

In one day people with minimal carpentry skills but a deep belief in a cause turned an empty flat bed truck into rainbow flag flying Hunk o' Fun.

The people who climbed up on it to dance and celebrate Pride were every colour in the rainbow, and spanned
several generations. The diversity went beyond age and race--some were straight, some gay, some bi-sexual.

It took our float two hours to wend its way along the parade route and as I looked out into the crowd I saw the same mix of age, ethnicity and gender plus everything from leather daddies to little toddlers with glow sticks bobbing to the passing disco beats.

You have to be part of something like this to experience the joy people feel in celebrating who they are.

The crowd this year was a bit smaller than last year's, but that's not surprising because it was a Monday night and lots of people had to work the next day.

Folks we saw seemed especially euphoric. Was it because it was only a short time ago that the same sex
marriage bill formally became law here in Canada, ending the last major form of legal discrimation against our gays and lesbians? Who knows.

Two hours after the parade ended, it was still hard to walk in the gay village. Not only were the sidewalks
crammed, the very street itself was a river of humanity.

The daughter and I and some of her friends enjoyed a cold beer and surveyed the big crowds from the vantage of a rooftop bar. I knew the zygotes would be partying for a long time, but my daughter took pity on me and agreed to check out early.

As we all know, I'm All About The Healthy Life Choices. So as the daughter and I wended our way towards home through the buoyant crowds, I chased that brew down with a pralines and cream ice cream cone. Mmmmmmm, beer and ice cream. MMMMMMMMMMMMM.

You know, I would love to be able to say that Canada is a completely open-hearted country. I would love to be able to say that the fact that we have passed same sex marriage laws and taken down the last of our legal code that formally discriminates against gays and lesbians means that that we completely accept diversity.

Well, we don't. The debate during the same sex marriage laws showed that. And frankly, there are lots of places in Canada where it wouldn't be
particularly safe for two men to walk down the street holding hands.

I suppose that's part of what makes Pride Week such a giddy time. For one week it's fine and safe to be gay. For one week a man can hug the man he loves, a woman can walk down the street with her arms around her wife's waist, and not worry about who's watching and how they will feel about that.

Yep, we do have a ways to go yet in this country, but even you know what? I think we will get there. It will take time for attitudes to adjust, but hey, time is one thing we have.

To paraphrase a Pride slogan: They're here, they're queer and we're getting used to it.

--Marn

P.S.--Photos will follow when I get back from Montreal.

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