Stonewall Festival & Parade in Wilton Manors Today!

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    Jun 18, 2016 1:51 PM GMT
    Our annual Pride festival & parade in Wilton Manors is today. We no longer march or ride in the parade, we leave that to the younger people, we'll just be sidelines observers today. Although there was a time, not too long ago, when I used to lead these things on my motorcycle (sometimes also permitted to ride with Dykes on Bikes, once the traditional lead unit in larger parades), or pedaled my bicycle, or marched on foot. I'm afraid for me now it's only time that marches on.

    I'm hoping Debbie Wasserman-Schultz will be in the parade, if she's still in town following her address yesterday at Fort Lauderdale's memorial for Orlando. She's marched with us before, and also spoken from an events stage. Wilton Manors used to be in her Congressional District, until Republicans performed a State redistricting to dilute Democratic voting clout. But her district remains nearby, and she continues to make Pride appearances. Very charming, accessible and down to earth, not like the egomaniacal prima donna politicians I also encounter.

    I expect to see the usual exhibitor booths for HRC and Equality Florida. Equality has taken the lead in fundraising for the Orlando nightclub massacre (now exceeding $5.3M), so I would expect we can make a donation in person. Another way to bring some comfort to my husband with his post-Orlando depression. Both organizations may also have some commemorative wearables, with proceeds to benefit Orlando, and we'll get some of those.
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    Jun 19, 2016 1:50 AM GMT
    Just got home. The festival was good, the parade better than ever. And no security incidents.

    The Orlando massacre didn't seem to affect turnout. The police were everywhere, but very low key, not deployed like military. In the parade I have never seen that many police and fire/emergency units marching (and rolling with their huge vehicles). But they all got enthusiastic applause and cheers from the spectators. At least in this community there seems to be a lot of support for our law enforcement and emergency first responders.

    As usual a great many politicians running for office were in the parade, for state, county and local positions, as well as 2 Members of Congress. One was Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who gave an electrifying speech yesterday (Friday) at an Orlando memorial we attended.

    Conclusion: it was a lovely Pride. More family oriented (family of all kinds) than some kind of public orgy. No nudity, not even near-nudity, no obscenity. Focused rather upon the needs & concerns of LGBT. Plus a joyous celebration of who we are. Leaving a very positive image of and for our gay community. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jun 19, 2016 3:49 AM GMT
    Did the day help your husband's mood for the better?
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    Jun 19, 2016 10:48 AM GMT
    Not4u said
    Did the day help your husband's mood for the better?

    Yes, much better, thanks for asking. I recognize my own limitations as a comfort giver. So my military reflex is to "assign" the job to others who can do it better. Or at least create a cumulative effect that's greater than a single person can achieve.

    And in his special case to pamper him a little. Growing up gay over 2 generations ago in a traditional Italian family made him feel an outcast, inferior, a reject, a nobody. So part of my job is to make him feel important, the center of attention, if only in little ways.

    At Pride he was surrounded by friends, who all gave him hugs. And he earns that himself, he's very well known and loved. My job is to put him in situations where that can happen. To tell the truth, that's as much why I contribute money to LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations. It gets him membership & recognition in exclusive groups like the Pride Center Founders Circle and the Broward House Spirit of Hope.

    Where he socializes as a somebody, no longer a nobody, just like he did yesterday at Pride. I'm very calculating, analyzing situations & needs, Insofar as I'm able. As I sometimes declare to him, with academically raised waving finger when he questions my actions: "There's madness in my method!" Then with a theatrical freeze, and assuming a puzzled expression, blurt: "No, wait, maybe it's the other way around." And he laughs, which is good to see, and he may say: "You were right the first time, you're always crazy." I don't mind playing the clown if it cheers him up.

    So yesterday I got him a great seat at a gay club with an open-air view right along the Drive where the festival was being held. And made sure he had a constant stream of visitors coming over to give him "Happy Pride!" greetings & hugs. Including the guy in whose Key West gay hotel we've got reservations to stay twice more this year, where the New Year's "Sushi Drop" is held we'll be attending, and who drove up for our event.

    Then I ran up and down the Drive (or more accurately, limped with my cane) to reconnoiter, and bring back all kinds of vendor loot for him. Especially from Florida Equality and HRC, making a contribution in his name on behalf of Orlando in the case of the former.

    Then we strolled the drive a little together, meeting many of his friends. I broke away to go ahead, to secure a restaurant table that once again was right on the Drive and open to the view. Then cell-phoned him to join me. I arranged for the restaurant owner himself to bring him some light snacks when he joined me.

    But that was in an outdoor covered patio, a little hot yesterday. So after an hour I moved us to another restaurant, where I got us a table indoors with a picture window view of the festivities. The table was for 4, and they were crowded, but this one had the best view in the place, and the owner, another friend of ours, overrode the maƮtre d's objections. And in defense I really did think some friends might be joining us, whom I phoned.

    We had a full Italian meal, his favorite. But then I thought we could take our wine and dessert to a sidewalk hi-top table against the temporary fence barrier and view the parade from there, about to start.

    The wait staff said they couldn't bring food outdoors to these temporary event tables. But the restaurant owner once again intervened and not only permitted our dessert, but comped us for it!

    So my husband was sitting right on the fencing at a hi-top cocktail table, no one blocking our view, drinking his Italian chianti and eating tiramisu (roughly translated from Italian as "cheer me up"), while the parade passed right next to us. Nothing cheers & comforts an Italian more than food. And many of the marchers ran over to hug him, and those riding in cars waved and called out his name. He was surely in his glory.

    The only thing I couldn't swing was getting Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to sit down with us at that restaurant, as I managed in a previous parade, along with our County Sheriff. We were near the parade's end, and in the past she's exited her parade convertible close-by to walk back up the sidewalk. But this year she didn't, and her car kept going, I presume to the lot where the floats pull in.

    But things otherwise went perfectly, pretty much as I had planned. Our car wasn't 100 feet from where our curbside table was when we departed after the parade. I knew a "secret" handicapped spot I had snagged when we arrived hours earlier. After first dropping him off at our starting point, initially parking illegally until I got him settled in, and then going back to repark the car about a half mile away. Right next to where I planned we would end our day. And then walking back to rejoin him.

    So yeah, I think his mood has improved. Although not participating in the parade himself, he nevertheless was a "Queen for a Day". And the parade itself, along with many of the Festival booths, honored Orlando in a way that I believe reassured him that we're not the worthless dirt that his own family once portrayed him as being. And that the slaughter in Orlando suggested to him he might still be.
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    Jun 19, 2016 1:17 PM GMT
    I also want to make a special complimentary comment about the police protection. After Orlando, and especially here in Florida, it was intense.

    I mentioned earlier that special wireless surveillance cameras had been temporarily installed on light poles. That sent images back to no fewer than 3 police communication vans parked on a side street, with tall antennas, that in turn were relaying to a regional crisis command center.

    And the "boots on the ground" was incredible. Or perhaps I should also say "bicycles on the ground", "motorcycles on the ground", and "hooves on the ground", with mounted police. But actually all very low key. Drawing upon State, County, and neighboring City police resources that I'd never seen before.

    At the same time, I think "easy duty" for the police. Since nothing bad happened, as is always the case at our Pride events. On the contrary, straight kinds of events can be more challenging from a policing standpoint. The most we have are a few boisterous or fall-down drunks, and not too many of them. Fights are almost unknown. And with large crowds in this Florida heat a few medical incidents are not surprising, although I didn't witness any of those, either. I see Pride as mostly a "Family" event, in all the good senses of the word.