WASHINGTON — I’ve witnessed plenty in my lifetime: an erupting volcano, a Ku Klux Klan rally, returning to where I served in a time of war.
I was able to knock another experience off my list of things I thought I’d never see: I got to watch a gay pride extravaganza in the nation’s capital.
My first — and most profound — takeaway was this: An event such as what we saw could not have been possible a generation ago. It speaks to the changes in attitude, culture, social mores that have swept across the country.
I was told the gay pride activities were “tame” compared to how they used to be. Every one of the thousands of people I saw along the many streets we walked was fully clothed. I saw plenty of rainbow colors. People’s hair was dyed in the colors of “Gay Pride.” They were festooned in rainbow-colored clothing. They were lugging signs, selling trinkets of assorted value.
I saw lots of smiles on a gorgeous day under a bright late spring sun.
Who in the world could have foreseen events such this a generation ago, perhaps even a decade ago.
I guess we can thank the U.S. Supreme Court for delivering millions of Americans from a form of purgatory when it ruled that under the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection clause” that gay marriage is therefore legal in all 50 states of this great nation.
But here’s another aspect of what I heard about the gay pride activities taking place in this most political place in America: Corporate and, yes, church endorsement helped make it mainstream. Think about that for just a moment. Gay pride events no longer are the sole province of radicals and extremists intending to shake up “the establishment.” The establishment has signed on.
So the parade took place. The capital was alive with celebration along block after block around the corridors of political power. I was there to witness it.
It was cool.