It’s Gay Pride weekend in New York City, which means a three day festival of inappropriate street costumes and pedestrian gridlock. The craziness can be tough to negotiate without disrupting our daily routine, but I wouldn’t trade it for a peaceful weekend in the country.
My daughter and I were happy (and lucky) be able to join in with a local school group on their float in the Pride Parade today. We rode through the crowd, dancing to”Dee-Lite”and waving our rainbow flags. This, I thought, is why I love raising my kids in New York City. Not just because they get to be a part of this, but because they get this into their brains from the very beginning.
I’m sure some will balk at exposing children to this kind of contercultural mayhem. But I think it’s good for her, and here’s why…
The prevailing message in our culture—fit in, be attractive—is so powerful and so oppressive that I think she stands to gain from seeing people who make their own norms. Bare butts in green paint on the street? Men dressed as Wonder Woman with chest hair sticking out of their shirts? Men in Tutus? Sure, it’s a little out there. But as far as I’m concerned, the more ways she sees people defining their own beauty, the better.
Of course there are moments where something crosses the line into something I’m not sure a kid needs to see. But honestly, in a parade context, it’s all one big freakshow. And at her age, there’s very little awareness about sexuality at all, nevermind its various variants. Both my kids were glad to hear about the Gay Marriage Bill in NY. But I’m not sure how much they know about what gay really is or means, beyond the fact that some of the people they know—friends, and friends’ parents—could fit that description.
Unsurprisingly, the thing my daughter liked most about the parade was the costumes. Come on: Glitter? Rainbows? Feathers? Face painting? What’s not to like? Drag queens are grown ups playing dress up. I saw my daughter looking at the shiny outfits and cartoon heels with a kind of kinship in her eyes…See, other people want to be a grown up lady, just like me. When she was deciding what to wear today, she asked if she should dress up as a boy. “Only if you want to,” I said. She didn’t.