Including Kids at Pride
ⓒ christina starr
Xtra! July 27, 2000
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Since before the first season-splitting equinox of this year, my daughter has been insisting we go to Michigan. A groovy plan. But as the months yawned before me and I happily committed myself to one thing after another, I realized I couldn’t afford the time and expense of a trip to the woods of babes.
          I was terrified to tell her. Even though she had the option of staying longer for that same week on a gorgeous island off Vancouver’s Pacific coast with her favourite cousin and his family, she wouldn’t hear of it. “I want to go to Michigan!” she pouted at me on the morning I broached the subject between waffles and lunch-making. Case closed.
          Pride day and Dyke day were a different matter. She’s attended Pride since before she knew about rainbows, and loved it. Loved the drag queens, the balloons, the colourful and shiny things to buy, the parade. 
          But now, at the ripe old age of 10, she doesn’t see the point. It’s crowded, packed with adults strutting their sexual freedoms, noisy, you can’t get near the parade and outside of that the biggest attraction is the beer gardens. She knows we can’t go in there because we tried some years ago and just as we were bending into the Macarena, we were asked to leave.
          On top of which, there aren’t many other kids. A few, sure. But before we head out for the day she wants to know who, and whether we have plans to meet up with them. She’s past the age where the spectacle itself is reason enough to participate. She wants it to be relevant for her. Case in point—she was most interested to get in on the women’s bathhouse float because I told her there’d be a blow-up pool.
          I want to share this queer high holiday with her. I want it to be her celebration too. Even if her elementary dating life has already given her confidence to assure me she’s straight, queerness will always be part of who she is. I don’t want Pride day to be this thing that mommy and her friends do and please get me a movie or find me a friend’s house to stay at or ask my straight dad if I can go over there.
          Given her hard-line position on Michigan, she’s not uncomfortable with events saturated with lesbians. She’s not embarrassed about the queerness in her family. Once we got to Dyke day she danced her little buns off—even more enthusiastically when it appeared we were going to make the CityTV news. But when the parade was over and all that was left was milling about with beer-swilling adults, she got bored and wanted to leave.
          I can’t blame her. Which of us would stick it out at, say, a daycare once story time is over and everyone’s having rice cereal and then naps? Who wants to be the token adult at a kid’s balloon-bursting, pop-spilling birthday party?
          Being a dyke is about being sexual and, for many, being liberated and adventuresome in that sphere. I love that flaunting aspect of Pride celebrations. But being a dyke is also about being a woman, and being a woman is often about being a mom. Dykes have for years been in the forefront of feminist crusades for universal childcare, abortion rights, family benefits. Why would we organize a day to celebrate ourselves and leave out the needs and interests of the children in our lives?
          Of course, I’ve never volunteered to help organize Dyke day or Pride day, so I humbly shoulder responsibility. But it became apparent this year that maybe there’s a different solution than pleading with my daughter to share the day with me and (soon) having to accept her refusal.
          It’d be a Pride weekend come true if I found myself, down to my quaking doc martens, unable to suggest we miss even a minute. And I know this dream’s not just mine.

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I want to share this queer high holiday with her. I want it to be her celebration too.