Yesterday's Pride Parade felt like an especially appropriate way to say goodbye to the city, surrounded as we were by so many black and brown bodies mixed in with white ones, all reveling in joy, sharing love, the celebration as tangible as the bright colors adorning storefronts, tassels waving, all of us blessed with near-perfect weather, and smiles sprouting up everywhere in response.
A few of the moments that really stood out:
1) Seeing the Korean contingent running, laughing, jumping, cavorting, and basically doing anything but marching down 14th, drums still in hand or strapped to torso, one couldn’t help but witness love unadulterated, joy infectious. Lucas and I perched on the curb, watching as they went past, our smiles broadening past the splitting point, while Carolina ducked into Chicken and Whiskey to score us all some yuca frita.
2) Early in the festivities, someone on a float tossed several dark green squishy foam balls into the crowd, and one of these touched down near Lucas, rolling towards his feet. Lucas, via me, recovered the ball and proceeded to hug this treasure dearly until we arrived at 14th and S, where we paused to watch the parade and scarf on yuca frita. The details get a little hazy at this point, the ensuing situation puzzling, given that Lucas currently doesn’t have much of a trajectory past a few feet, but somehow his squishy foam ball ended up rolling towards the paraders. Almost instantaneously, a young girl separated herself from the parade mass, scooped up the dark green ball, then jogged over and handed it to Lucas. “Here you go,” she said, and, her good deed complete, scampered back to rejoin the throng.
3) I’m thinking now of the trolley car (although maybe it was a bus…) with signs on it declaring “Elders Paved The Way,” and of the rousing cheers in response from those gathered in the streets, nearly all of whom were too young for Stonewall, but all of whom can recognize the fierce oppression that had to be overcome by those who fought before to make Pride a reality. When we talk about grit and resistance, about national character, it's the surmounting of these forms of oppression by marginalized communities, by people refusing to succumb, people who rise up, it’s these things that we should be celebrating.
4) By far the most powerful moment was seeing the "No Human Being Is Illegal" float heading up R street and the roars of affirmation that accompanied its passage.
No Human Being is Illegal.
We’d just finished our walk and decided spur-of-the-moment to check out the activity near the starting point. Caro had been on a perpetual search for marching bands throughout the afternoon (Do you hear drums? I think I hear drums. Did you hear horns? I think I hear horns…), and we thought that yes, it was just possible that we might yet spot a marching band. Ahead of the “No Human Being Is Illegal” float (and this fact can’t be said or written or sung or otherwise conveyed enough) came a large tapestry of flags, predominantly from Central and South American countries (I’m speculating, given the few I recognized), all woven together and carried by a group of people preceding the float. The migratory butterfly imagery bore the expected rainbow hues, but now more vibrant, shimmering even. The experience of seeing the float and the witnessing the overwhelming support of the crowd made me tear up, at once affirming, powerful.
"We are here to stay" forever echoes against injustice.
The combination of identities on the float, many if not all who would be persecuted in the countries represented by the banner as well as in this country, the linking of freedom of migration and freedom of love, both of which are integral parts of freedom of life and of being and of being. These are the coalitions we need to be building. These are the coalitions we need to live. These are the coalitions that will help this country grow into and live up to its moral claims, that of a beacon of freedom, liberty, and justice for all.