Lesbian and Gay Parenting book coverIn a Family Way

A column by Arlene (Ari) Istar Lev

Gay Pride with Children

Posted By on July 1, 2009

Gay Pride already seems like months ago, but such is my fast paced life with children. We had a lovely time, walking the streets of Greenwich Village, my ole stomping grounds almost three, yes, three, decades ago. The city has both changed, and yet remains the same, full of life, and color, danger, and vibrancy.

I wanted to bring the children because, well, they claim we never DO anything. “Mom, it’s been over a year since we’ve been to California, and over two since we went to Disney World.” Sigh, at 6 I’d never been to California (although it came up in my dreams), and Disney World was not even on the viewscreen of my working class family. When I was young, we went to Peter Pan Amusement Park in Flatbush and thought that was a vacation. I thought Gay Pride would be a vacation of sorts for them too, but it turned out to be just run of the mill weird for them.

They loved the boys in drag, of course. They pointed out all the high heels shoes, wild costumes, and dancing half-naked men on floats. The highlight for my two-year old was the dyke decked out in leather chaps with her butt exposed. “What’s THAT?” he yelled, pointing. “What does it look like?” I said, in my best Ms. Cleaver voice. “Her tushy!!!!” he yelled, inviting all the gaggles of dykes to join him in peals of laughter.

Kids have their own agenda’s, of course. My agenda was simple: good food and queer energy. Theirs was parks with swings and a ride on a NYC bus. We hopped on a bus (which they thought of as a kind of amusement park ride) behind the Dyke March, and got to experience the March from up high, driving slowly through the crowded city streets. We shared the bus with Joe and Mary America, tourists like us, sort of.

“It’s the Gay Day Pride,” my 6-year old explained. I corrected him, “The Gay Day Parade is tomorrow. This is the Dyke Parade. You know,” I said, leaning intimately into Joe, “they need their own parade.” He nodded, nervously. My two-year old leaned into the window, pressing his face up against the glass, making faces at the women (and their friends who eschew the term “women”), until they were all pointing at him, while he was pointing at the dog, dyed a bright blue. “Well,” Joe said laughing, “I don’t think all the police officers are lesbians.” I leaned into him again, “Crossdressers,” I whispered, seriously.

I was happy to be back on the streets of my youth, feeling the edge that is NYC. Joe looked at our family. Butchie looked particularly handsome that day. He looked at our handsome boys, dressed to the nine’s celebrating “our family’s day.” The younger one wore a shirt that said, “If you think I’m cute, you should see my moms”; it is bright pink. My older son was decked out in flowers and beads, and a very cool hat. He likes to play princess, and who I am to stop him, since I like to play princess too. “We really are just an average American family,” I assured Joe, as we got off the bus and headed over to playground in Washington Square Park, where we fit right in.

I asked my older boy when we came home what he thought of the Gay Parade. “It’s okay,” he said, shrugging. “Did all the gay people in the world come to New York?” I explain that there are many more gay people than he saw this weekend, even in a parade that lasted over seven hours. He nodded knowingly, downloading what it was to be just one of a crowd, a member of a tribe. He’s been questioning lately whether having gay parents makes him gay too. I, of course, told him that this was something he could decide, and assured him he has plenty of time to figure it out. Pondering his trip to NYC, he sat down to write in his summer journal about his trip to Gay Pride in NYC. It is recorded between his trip to see Grandma, and his visit to the meditation ashram. It’s a well-rounded life, don’tcha think?