My wife, son and I went to Six Flags as his annual birthday gift – he turned 14 this year, and I don’t have to ride with him any longer (thank FSM). Instead, I can settle into my favorite public pastime: people watching.
We usually get there when the park opens (10 am), and this year was no different. At 10, the usual crowds started to arrive: the family reunions with matching t-shirts, the religious groups with their matching t-shirts, and the scantily-clad redneck women in their wal-mart best who usually cause the fore-mentioned religious groups much consternation.
This year, I was surprised to see quite a few gay couples walking amidst others, holding hands and kissing – in full view of the rednecks and religious folk. This was a shock – not the PDA, and not the fact that the PDA was being performed and accepted by teh gay (living with a feminist and equal-rights proponent with a family chock’ full of gayness, I’m used to it) – but that it was being done out in the open. In the deep south. In front of christian rednecks.
I settled in for quite a show.
And I got gypped.
Not that there weren’t some gems. The platinum blue-haired girl walking around with her Leeloo-red-haired significant other were notable. The stereotypical chaps-wearing, Freddie Mercury-looking men were on parade as well. As were many, many two-daddy or two-mommy families who would blend in at any community event if it were not for the lack of the x or y as applicable. There were far more of the less flamboyant than the Judy Garland-worshiping types. I was witness to my first glimpse of a pants-on-the-ground, breasts-taping urban thug and her dainty girlfriend. That was worthy to note in my memory banks.
Of the hetero segment of the population, I saw more slack-jawed stares, fly-attracting open mouths and double-takes in my twelve-hour expedition there than at any week or month ever. The looks were, of course, from attendees who were not a part of the Rainbow day festivities. They were from the “normal” attendees. Let me describe one such “normal” family:
It was dusk and my son wanted to ride the “Goliath” ride a few times in the dark, before it was closed for the night. He and his friend (his ticket was the best money I have ever spent) had the “platinum” flash pass (second-best money i have ever spent) and were waiting to board the ride. Sitting in a park bench next to my wife and me as we were waiting for the ride to conclude, was a boy of about five and his little sister – who I would estimate at about two years old. The boy was seated on the bench next to his sister was in a stroller. They were left alone by their “normal” parents as they rode Goliath. The minutes built on each other as daylight ebbed and night came up. five minutes became ten, ten became twenty and after each minute, the stress and worry built on the little boy’s face. At one point, he began to cry from the worry and fear. Here was a child not old enough to attend kindergarten who was placed in a position of responsibility over his sister while the parents went off to do something that could easily have killed them both. Left them alone at night around strangers. No guardians. Nobody but themselves in a big strange place with loud noises and strangers bustling by.
In contrast, I saw no gay couples who abandoned their children in the open for 45 minutes. Instead, I saw many same-sex couples with what appeared to be happy children. to be fair, I saw plenty of what I can only assume were hetero couples with happy kids as well.
I was a little surprised that no arguments or fights broke out between the christians and teh gays. That would have been a good ending to the day. I guess that my surprise was that the bigots were not out – at least not vocal.
So here’s a congratulations message to the attendees and organizers of the rainbow day/pride day in Atlanta on August 25 2012. We’ll see you again next year.