In the middle of the Pride
Parade a few years back, my daughter interrupted my ecstatic dancing to hand me
the tooth that had just fallen out of her mouth. Toasted by sun and fired by
the music, with happy partiers pressing in on all sides, it inched the pride
meter right over the top. Being a mom and being queer.
She was proud too, and
grinned at me excitedly with a crimson flush along her lower lip. Imagine being
able to tell your grandchildren that you lost your tooth in the middle of
That was the year we
hitched a ride from Durham region homos. My daughter spied the truck and, too
tired to walk the whole parade, weaseled a space for her and a friend. Some
things are really easy when they’re still small and
adorable. I planned to walk behind but the irresistible little thing (god love
her) insisted I ride. It turned out that Durham queers have great taste in
dance music, and I danced all the way while my daughter and her friend waved
graciously to the public, sort of like well-bred royalty.
That might have been the
same year she realized that all the “fancy” women she adored weren’t women in the way she
thought they were. She was quite astonished, which either says something about
the limits of a four-year-old mind or about the quality of drag in Toronto. It
impressed her enough that while lunching on pizza at Church and Maitland, she
struck up a discussion with a lavish queen about the delineations between “he” and “she”.
Or it might have been the
year we got kicked out of the beer garden. Neither of us was carded at the
entrance so we thought we were in for a few good hours of partying, until an
astute bouncer said we’d have to leave. I’m not sure what tipped him off. In fact, at her height, I’m surprised he even saw her. The worst part was that we were just
getting into the Macarena.
Like any under-age
partier, my daughter was mortified at being kicked out and made me promise not
to tell anyone. Which I haven’t, of course.
Then there was the year
she memorized the colours of the rainbow, in their rainbow order. At her arts
and crafts camp that summer, she covered everything in rainbows. At the parent
Open House she couldn’t wait to show me and I
wondered, stupidly, if her camp counsellors had figured it out. It was either
that or the fact that every single one of her magazine cut-outs were pictures
My daughter’s taught me a lot about being proud. She’s certainly taught me
that it’s not just one day of the year and it’s not just in one
community. If you take your kid out to whoop it up, have a parade, dress up and
dance all day, you can’t ask her not to mention
the celebration for the rest of the year. Just like you can’t be surprised when you find out she told her teacher about your column
in Xtra (whether before or after the sex toys issue, I’m not about to ask).
But besides keeping me
out and on the look-out, my daughter’s taught me much about
how to be proud, if that means being who you are and not apologizing for it. It’s a marvellous thing about kids – they’re the most un-obnoxious
proud people you’ll ever meet.
I often take my example
from her. Imagine if we could all admit what we don’t know and not hide what
we do. Imagine if other people’s opinions were just
other people’s opinions and being noticeable was just part of being alive. Imagine if
every achievement, every spurt of growth and every loose tooth was a cause for
celebration and praise. Imagine if being proud wasn’t a deadly sin.
Perhaps, in learning to
be proud in the face of homophobia, we queers have a lot to teach others. Not
only about being proud, but about how pride can fuel good things. It’s helped to create a strong community and made us less willing to be
quiet about our lives. It’s inspired tons of cultural
production and motivated fights for a more equitable society. It’s made for a few good arts and crafts projects and probably some
entertaining classroom stories. It’s allowed us to be
noticed and to find satisfaction in being different. And it’s inspired a few hundred thousand good parties.
It sounds okay to me, and
like a pretty good place for a kid and her mom to hang out for the rest of
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