Learning Pride From My Daughter
ⓒ christina starr
Xtra! June 8, 1999
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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 Pride.
          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 werent 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. Im not sure what tipped him off. In fact, at her height, Im 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 of women.
          My daughter
s taught me a lot about being proud. Shes certainly taught me that its not just one day of the year and its 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 cant ask her not to mention the celebration for the rest of the year. Just like you cant be surprised when you find out she told her teacher about your column in Xtra (whether before or after the sex toys issue, Im 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. Its a marvellous thing about kids – theyre the most un-obnoxious proud people youll 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 peoples opinions were just other peoples 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 wasnt 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. Its inspired tons of cultural production and motivated fights for a more equitable society. Its made for a few good arts and crafts projects and probably some entertaining classroom stories. Its allowed us to be noticed and to find satisfaction in being different. And its 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 their lives.

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My daughter's taught me much about how to be proud, if that means being who you are and not apologizing for it.