Sharpened words: Why I cried at the LGBT Pride Parade

Anna Frost reflects on her experience attending the LGBT Pride Parade.


Courtesy of Creative Commons

Anna Frost, Writer

Courtesy of Creative Commons


After navigating through the mess of traffic and securing a coveted parking space not too far from the parade’s start, I waded through the crowd and wondered whether I should be there at all. I spent days debating my answer when the editor at my internship asked me to be a part of the newspaper’s float in the San Diego LGBT Pride Parade. It was tame enough — all I had to do was walk alongside the Old Town Trolley Tours trolley and pass out our Pride Festival informational guides to the crowd. To be honest, the idea of walking in a parade period made me more uncomfortable than the reason for this particular event.

I wondered whether it would be right, proper, moral and biblical to participate as my editor asked me again if I had decided. I pondered and prayed as we drove back from an assignment and she pointed out the street where all the anti-gay groups protest each year during the parade. I blanched as she recounted how a protester threw tear gas into the parade in 1999. I told her I would walk with them. I was unaware that my eyes and heart were about to be opened wider than the Grand Canyon.

A bright-eyed arrival

So there I stood, two weeks later, flanked by people bedecked in rainbow colors and all sorts of other outfits. I attempted to find the front of the parade, distracted as I took in the festivities for the first time. My co-workers finally appeared; I donned a staff shirt and within what seemed like minutes, we started moving. People waved flags and banners, cheered, and laughed as we passed, eagerly taking the guides we distributed. Bright colors surrounded us. The summer heat meant nothing to the crowd, still fresh with joy about the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA and Proposition 8. I kept pace with the trolley and let the atmosphere wrap around me, swept up in the sheer glee surging from the spectators.

“You’re on the wrong bus, Sodomite!”

The loud, grating sound of a man’s voice emanating from a megaphone assaulted us without warning. For a moment, I thought it was a joke, some kind of twisted satire. His next words, however, were unmistakable.

“You’re on the bus to hell!”

My skin prickled and my knees weakened, as if someone had smashed a window pane on me. I felt glass shards sticking in my back, legs and heart. The man’s hate struck me like a powerful blow and my soul ached from the impact. I caught my breath and spun around to face a wall of signs reading “God Hates Fags” and other similar phrases held up by people whose faces I could not see. Tears formed behind my sunglasses and I realized that I was the only person fazed by the hateful words — or at least the only one who showed it. Overcome by a powerful wave of emotion, I was torn apart by the simultaneous desires to run to the protesters and plead them to stop, and to tell the rest of the parade that I was sorry they had to hear those horrid things. I wanted to show everyone God’s love, mercy and grace but, overwhelmed with sadness for the Christians yelling those slurs, I did not know how to begin. I imagined grabbing that megaphone and saying something, anything to stop the promotion of this hateful version of God. Instead I adjusted my newspaper satchel and continued walking forward, shaking and hoping no one noticed. We passed them just as soon as we had come upon them, yet they weighed upon my mind for the rest of the week.

Departure deep in thought

If walking in another’s shoes is a powerful experience, hearing with another’s ears and seeing with their eyes is an indescribable awakening. Although that man’s words were not necessarily meant for the straight, Christian girl walking alongside her co-workers, I felt the wounds caused by each syllable acutely. As someone who has always been appalled by the Westboro Baptist Church’s pickets, yet would have voted for Proposition 8 if she hadn’t been one year below the voting age, I was not sure how or if the parade would affect me. Now, I can honestly say that I have never felt so fiercely convinced of God’s love for everyone, regardless of sin, and so undeniably aware of the pain that humans cause one another when we fail to remember that. 

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