We Had a Gay Old Time

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

Yes, we’re using the final line to “The Flintstones” theme song, only because after having been on my already frail feet for four hours Saturday, by the end of the day, they felt swollen up to Fred Flintstone size.  But the use of “Gay Old Time” in this context is to say that a few days ago, I didn’t even KNOW about the Gay Pride Parade in London, since it certainly didn’t get the hype that say, The Rolling Stones at Glastonbury Festival did.

I was merely looking for something to do this weekend, and called my friend Ellen asking if anything interesting was going on. She mentioned that the firm she’s been working for, Phoenix Housing Commission, in conjunction with Stonewall, had a contingent marching in the Gay Pride Parade. The timing was good, as only a day or two before, the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and California’s homophobic Proposition 8 (amazingly passed in 2010) were both declared unconstitutional and thus overturned. So there was cause for jubilance among the 1000 or so marchers Saturday, many of whom had flown in from the US. I hadn’t marched in ANYTHING since 1991, when I marched in San Francisco to protest the first Gulf War.

There I was, this over-60 heterosexual being, marching, carrying a placard that said “Some Girls Are Gay, Get Over It,” and chanting along with the rest of the throng. The journey covered maybe 2 miles, from near Baker Street station to Trafalgar Square, though admittedly my, and Ellen’s, feet dictated that we shelve the last few hundred meters of the journey. There were only 4 or 5 chants that we repeated with any regularity, including “2-4-6-8, We want marriage, we can’t wait,” “What do we want? Equal Marriage! When do we want it? Now!” and a series of variations on what my placard said, followed by “Get Over It!”

The most curious chant was one which went “2-4-6-8, Is The Cardinal really straight?” I wasn’t even sure of the actual words until it had been repeated about 50 times, and even then wasn’t sure what it was referring to. It was vaguely explained to me, but I got it clarified later, that this was a reference to Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the disgraced highest ranking Roman Catholic cleric in UK, and avowed opponent of gay marriage. In a headline that I somehow completely missed, O’Brien was forced to step down from public life in early March after allegations of “inappropriate behavior” surfaced against him, apparently fondling some young intern priests several years ago. Once those allegations were made public (and there was legal action being taken from those affected), O’Brien was given word from the top dog, outgoing Pope Benedict, to vacate for the good of all concerned.  Don’t you LOVE when hypocrisy gets exposed Big Time?

All that didn’t stop a group of bible-thumpers from setting up a display along the march route, complete with all their propaganda, and a PA system so they could preach their nonsense to mostly deaf ears. The best thing about that was several avowed Christians among the spectators carrying signs saying essentially, “These people are idiots, Jesus/God loves you, and so do we.”

My personal favorite moment came at a point on Regent Street where I was walking close enough to the spectators to interact with some of them. Two very tipsy, and from what I could see, straight, men shouted out to me “You’re a Fucking Legend!” and gave me more than just a high-five. They even offered me a hit from their can of Southern Comfort, but I declined, as I traditionally avoid day drinking. I continued walking ahead, though I was certainly curious as to who they thought I was. One print review of my act years ago referred to me as a “Keith Richards look-alike,” and if they thought I was him, I’m a bit surprised they didn’t ask me “Aren’t you supposed to be at Glastonbury?” Then again, they could have actually been recognizing ME! Perish the thought!

It was a great day, capped off by a last-minute gig in Stafford, 140 miles north of London, at a local theatre to an absolutely wonderful crowd that helped me find extra energy I wasn’t sure I had. And finally, on the drive home, to hear The Rolling Stones live on the radio, and to not feel quite so old. I did my bit for humanity, brought some joy to 120 people in Stafford, then got to hear a still excellent band, even if Mick’s voice is starting to sound like that of someone only weeks away from age 70. I’m still recuperating 48 hours later; I can only imagine how Mick and Keef are doing.

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