A DC Pride Photo

Soaking in DC Pride, my thoughts drift in several directions.






The first is topical, these pictures were snapped on P Street, just hours before the Parade kicked off, at the chain store, Lululemon Athletica. When asked, the store clerk said that this was just something they cooked up, not a chain-wide campaign. The whimsy, frivolity, and good nature of this window display was backed by a few employees minding the store with the courage to put their mannequins where their hearts were.

It was great seeing all the young people, many of them straight suburban kids, pour out like syrup from the Metro stations. They come to see perhaps a spectacle but more than that they are following inner wonderings about their own sexuality and they have come not only to check out others but also to check out themselves.

Second, I have dwelled on the remarkable fact this year that the LGBT community-at-large is now raising more money for HIV/AIDS prevention than anyone else, as Rick Rosendall said in his column this week in Metro Weekly, meaning “women and children with HIV will live thanks to those who were once ostracized.” That is a maturity and benchmark for this movement to be proud of.

Last, the gaiety prompts me to again be dumbstruck how a community that is all about love so often itself is the scene where mutual support and success is often sabotaged by personal grudges socked away in the minds of people, sometimes for years. This is always bad, retarding our progress by dismissing out of hand new ideas, initiatives, and people as they join in our struggle. We’ve got to stop doing—not just because it is counterproductive but because it is so small-minded and mean-spirited and should have no quarter in what we are all about. The LGBT movement rather should be a model for others displaying unified action, without requiring uniformity, among its constituency. Get people to say, “Wow, look at how they all get along and treat each other so respectfully. I want to be a part of that.”

Gladly there are signs that this distemper is being weeded out so that growth is steadier, stronger, and more long lasting. For example, it has been a miracle to witness how Maryland trans folk are rising up from the ashes of the failed legislative session and their historic disagreements on approach. The Maryland legislators said no to gay marriage and no to gender identity and expression protections, but gender activists are joining hands in a new spirit of cooperation, putting aside petty competitiveness and time-worn grudges, to win these important battles this year because it is really a grossly overdue matter of life and death.

Nowhere is this more evident than the leadership of a new organization called Gender Rights Maryland, which plans to work non-stop as advocates and lobbyists to first educate and then win the hearts and minds of the state legislators. In May, Maryland Governor O’Malley voiced support for gender identity non-discrimination legislation, and Gender Rights Maryland is going to make him stick to it.

It’s a new day and a new dawn. Happy DC Pride 2011.

—Alison Gardner

Editor’s Note: While not Maryland residents ourselves, Dan Massey and I have been asked to help by joining the Gender Rights Maryland Policy Advisory Board, further deepening our own commitment to these issues, both in Maryland and nationwide.