Thursday, June 09, 2011

Pride and prejudice

Light rain overnight seems to have broken the brief heat wave --- cool air when I opened the front door at 4:30 as opposed to the hot damp towel effect of most mornings this week --- and rain is in the forecast off and on through Monday.

Flooding preparations continue along the Missouri and, in Arizona, wildfires. The war goes on in Afghanistan and covert operations elsewhere, but the really important news is that fuzzy views of U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s wiener have emerged.

I’m too old and too out of date to understand why anyone, legislator or otherwise, would ship naked photos of himself or herself off via the Internet to casual acquaintances. But it does seem increasingly the thing to do.

But now that I think about it, the first full-fledged on-screen nudity I viewed involved a theater screening of Andy Warhol’s “Heat” --- then considered extraordinarily shocking --- in Washington, D.C. Maybe it has something to do with location.


Internet service was out in much of Chariton yesterday morning as our most frequently used provider, Windstream, worked to deal with growing pains --- and that was a major topic of conversation and complaint.

Back in the good old days, we just fussed when the lights went out or the phone went dead. And most likely back in the day when Chariton was settled there was consternation when the guy carrying the mail over from Albia fell off his horse and was delayed. There’s so much more to worry about these days.


This will be Capitol City Pride weekend in Des Moines, the 33rd annual I think, and I’m trying to decide if I should load the rocking chair into the back of the truck and drive into Des Moines Sunday afternoon to watch Dean Genth ride by in the big parade. You’ve always got to keep appropriate seating in mind, you know, when you get to be my age.

This is the biggest and best of Iowa’s Pride celebrations, all held during June to honor the Stonewall uprising that commenced early June 28, 1969, in Greenwich Village. Last year, the Des Moines event attracted roughly 15,000 people to the East Village I believe.

I know Dean, this year’s grand marshal, a little from Mason City, where he and his then-partner and now-husband, Dr. Gary Swenson, have been leading a two-man Pride parade since moving there. They were co-founders during 2004 of PFLAG-North Iowa. Active in First Presbyterian Church, theirs was the first same-sex holy union ceremony celebrated in that church, also during 2004 (I happened to be working in the newsroom that Saturday when we received a whispered telephone call from someone who seemed incensed: “Do you know what’s happening at First Presbyterian Church?” Actually, we did). He’s gone on to work with the Rev. Mel White’s SoulForce organization (White married Dean and Gary on May 31, 2009, in Mason City), to chair Iowa’s Stonewall Democrats and serve in a variety of other leadership roles for Iowa’s LGTB community. One Iowa presented Dean with the Courageous 6 Award --- as someone who has “publicly shared his life for the betterment of all” --- earlier this year. So you’d be hard-pressed to find a more qualified candidate for the grand marshal-ship.

It’s always fun to check the Pride program and see who the heavy-hitting sponsors are, this year including Wellmark, Wells Fargo, Principal Financial Group, MetLife, ING, Nationwide, Aviva, Meredith and others.

I always check churches, too. The honor roll this year includes includes old friends First Unitarian, Westminster Presbyterian and St. John’s Lutheran, all of which will have parade entries, as well as Plymouth Congregational, Urbandale United Church of Christ, Walnut Hills United Methodist and Crossroads United Church of Christ.

The fun begins with a Pride Scavenger Hunt at 6 p.m. Friday, commencing at Blazing Saddle, 416 E. 5th St. (post-party there, too).

Gates and booths open for the Pridefest Street Party at 5 p.m. Saturday in the four-block area centered on the intersection of East Fifth and Locust. After the 7 p.m. opening ceremony, Pride Idol, Randy Roberts and the Village People will be on stage.

There will be a pancake breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Sunday and the parade begins at 1 p.m. east of the Capitol, then proceeds down Grand to East Fourth, then west on Locust to East First. Among those scheduled on the Pride stage Saturday afternoon will be State Sen. Matt McCoy and the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus.

Anyhow, the whole event sounds like fun and, since this is Iowa after all, family friendly for the most part. If you’re available Monday, it’s Gay Day at Adventureland.

It’s been amazing to watch pride rise from prejudice over the course of 40 years in Iowa and elsewhere. There have been lots of brave people, and still are, to thank.

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