by Aaron Warner
White River Junction saw its second Pride Parade come to town this past Saturday. An otherwise modestly-sized crowd gathered in small pockets around the two main streets where the parade route began.
The first go-around was led by the local fire department engine blaring its horn and flashing lights as the parade turned the corner onto Main Street. In tow were fifty or so parade participants waving flags, carrying signs and personally decorated in bright colored hair and a variety of New England style flamboyance there to publicly declare their affiliation with the LGBTQ movement.
The friendly crowd cheered in support of the event which seemed almost over before it began. A second trip around the route was led by a local police vehicle once more followed by the participants who were blessed with beautiful summer weather as they paraded their message of inclusion for the once marginalized.
I had the opportunity to interview a few of the onlookers. It was a tale of two ladies from different generations with differing interests in the event.
Flo is resident of the Upper Valley having lived in the White River area for some thirty five years. This was her first time at a Pride parade, and found herself there by virtue of living in the Coolidge Hotel located along the parade route. When asked about her interest in attending she said she is primarily a supporter of human rights and believes American values based in freedom extend to sexual orientation. Though preferring to remain private about her orientation she said she is fine with people wanting to make theirs known publicly.
Regarding the topic of transgender men being allowed in women’s sports or bathrooms she seemed uncomfortable taking a position and preferred to wait for evidence to determine if either was fair or safe for biological women. She said she was “confused” about how it all works and that she felt behind the times regarding the science and safety, unsure as to where to find out more about it all.
When asked about cancel culture and how an openly homosexual Vermonter running as a Republican was being banned from public platforms due to his disagreements regarding transsexual men infringing on women’s rights she commented Republicans should be included in the public discourse and their views should be heard and respected as well, stating we should be careful not to alienate our fellow citizens over political views.
Turning to politics she responded to her thoughts on president Donald Trump with clear distaste for him as a person and said she was thankful that “scary” period was over. “Trump sucks” she stated because he was “ignorant” and spread “false information” especially about COVID conspiracies and Democrats. As for president Biden she had little to say other than “he’s not Trump”.
Lucy is an 18-year-old young woman from Hanover. She was surprised to walk out of her work to find herself amidst the parade. This was the first time she’d seen a pride parade in a small town having been to larger parades in New York prior. When asked about her views of the event she stated when she was 13 she was asked odd questions about girls and “didn’t know they were an option”, only to realize she preferred them to boys. A well-informed and thoughtful interviewee, she enumerated her reasons for supporting the LGBTQ movement and its role in marriage equality, gay parenting, trans athletes and bathrooms and the pros and cons of each.
Lucy stated gay couples can provide as loving a home for children as heterosexual couples, referring to studies she said she would be happy to source. When asked about trans-men in women’s bathrooms she became agitated because she had been attacked once in a women’s restroom by someone who thought she was a guy. So she is sympathetic to anyone being made to feel attacked for being in a restroom, though she didn’t seem too concerned that might include women and children.
As for cancel culture she feels it’s blown out of proportion and that businesses should be allowed to fire people for their views, even those dating back on social media 10 years. owever she said people should be given a chance to change their views and not be punished publicly if they do. This extended to the Republican candidate who she said Facebook or Facebook page managers have the right to exclude from public discourse. One has to wonder where tolerance and intolerance intersect in these matters for those publicly parading for the former. Though recognizing each individual has uniqueness she also sees group identity as a reason for understanding power dynamics.
Turning to politics, Lucy held a similarly low opinion of president Trump, claiming only to share his view of political corruption as a problem in American politics. Rather than a swamp inhabited by bi-partisan actors she sees most of the corruption on the Republican side of the aisle. Likewise, she believes the recently reported low trust in American media the result of right-leaning reporting. Her sympathetic views of Biden seemed more as a default from Trump as opposed to actual support.
Turning to Critical Race Theory, she was keen on the talking points often cited in its favor. When I asked if she was familiar with black economist Thomas Sowell, she said she was not, but said she’d be happy to look into him. Stating confidently “if you don’t see generational wealth” derived from American slavery as creating an oppressive system that needs correcting “you’re crazy.” We went back and forth on slavery being multi-racial. She agreed modern slavery needs as much attention as reparations. She seemed certain race and racism are major problems in American today, though the theory was her main source of validation.
Finally, when asked about LGBTQ needs the interview turned to matters of mental health and the need for mental illness to be treated as such, with hospital beds and other services needing offered to those suffering. I asked her if she was familiar with the National Alliance for Mental Illness and she was not, however she is a proud volunteer for the Special Needs Support Center in downtown White River.
Lucy then opened up about being on the autism spectrum and concluded by saying “a parade like this would have meant a lot to me as a kid.”
When asked about the role of Christianity in the LGBTQ world she said all views should be respected and that she prefers a secular society that allows for freedoms, including religious practices, to be honored per the Bill of Rights.
I reached out to area pastors for comments regarding the parade. None responded or commented on behalf of their churches.
Categories: Society & Culture