photo credit OUTSIDEMediaby Liz Moore

In keeping with our role for over two decades, PJALS peacekeepers were at Spokane’s Pride Celebration on June 8. These are four reflections on my experience this year.

Things I learned at Pride #1: some things haven’t changed. The threat from one anti protestor was the same as I was threatened with when I told a fellow Deer Park 2nd grader in probably 1980 that I didn’t believe in a god: “Repent, or you’ll burn in the lake of fire.”

Things I learned at Pride #2: Some things REALLY CHANGE ALOT: During a very early Pride March (yes, a March then and not a Parade yet) in Spokane, we seemed like a very tiny group, walking on the sidewalks on an empty-Downtown Sunday. I wasn’t the only one occasionally looking up at windows and ledges wondering if we were safe. Today, the crowd was really huge and both filled the streets AND lined the sidewalks to watch. People took pics of the antis I was peacekeeping the heck out of, and I talked with them about how they were documenting history. Founding Peace & Justice Center staffer Ken Isserlis said that someone had once told him he’d backed every losing cause in Spokane in almost 40 years… and Ken guessed he sure had missed the losing side on this one! The antis were there in larger numbers today because they just LOST BIG on the freedom to marry. How about that?

Things I learned at Pride #3: Sometimes it can be a useful, if not good, thing to come face to face with our opposition. I think I offended the true-hearted and passionate ally Lucy Vazquez when I tried to express this today and I apologize if so! I meant to express that I was moved by the people who honestly and earnestly engaged those “gay-obsessed zealots” to tell them their own views. I heard a woman arguing that lgbt parents have to go through so much to adopt children that it proves the children are sincerely wanted. I heard another woman calmly engaging to say why she thought the guy spouting verses was wrong. I heard a woman say, “Of course God doesn’t hate gays–we wouldn’t be here if he did!” I think it can be very valuable to explicitly articulate our own views and beliefs. I know it has been very valuable for me when I’ve had to come face to face with people with opposite views and struggle to find the right words and just SAY IT.

Things I learned at Pride #4: It’s good to speak up when people are being jerks. And I mean, be LOUD and bold! I got so focused on my “peacekeeper” role and I sort of, in my head, wanted things to be calm. So when the awesome-ly dressed Queen, in a beautiful dress with a sort of a stand-up ruffle of feathers all around her shoulders, walked all around the caution-tape enclosed gay-obsessed zealots, I felt partly “AWESOME” and partly “Everyone calm down!” When the zealot with the bullhorn who’d been haranguing us all during the Parade started saying “Shame, Shame” — the be-feathered lady began chanting it RIGHT back at him, and the crowd followed her lead. In retrospect, it’s one of my favorite moments of the day. She’s right, the crowd was right–they should be ashamed of using their religion to verbally and psychically assault other people, and even though my peacekeeping role didn’t lend to saying so at the moment, I’m glad the crowd said so in such a unified way.

Please share your own reflections in the comments!