A lesson in tolerance.
Yesterday we took Bub to the annual Pride Parade—a three hour love-fest that featured men shimmying in tidy-whities, the mayor of Chicago (not shimmying), Band-aided breasts and lots and lots of bubbles.
We were lucky to get quasi-VIP seating, away from the throngs of the estimated hundred thousand plus spectators; close enough to read the signs, too far to catch a contact. But the spirit of the parade is undeniable, infectiously festive. Spectators and marchers alike sung, danced, made out and threw beach balls, beads and high fives around with unabashed fervor. Holistic merriment was clearly the theme of the day.
There were politicians, gay librarians, transgendered Asians, Brazilian dancers and a group of lesbian motorcycle enthusiasts. There were local bars and clubs, a Cubs trolley, progressive charter schools and synagogues all represented. And while each may have had its own sub-agenda, they were all marching together in a shared showing of supportive acceptance.
This is exactly the spirit and values I want to instill in our son. Acceptance and understanding, not tolerance. I tolerate toll roads. I tolerate mornings and mosquitoes and Chicago winters. I tolerate spam. The parade and huge numbers of supporters embody a hope that you have the freedom to be exactly who you are and be comfortable with it, without fear of reproach or ridicule or discrimination. This could be the world Bub grows up in, and I like that world.
And yet … this festive outpouring was tempered by the follow-up story today, from a storage yard owner on the south side. Housed at his lot were fifty-one of the floats for the parade. The owner left Saturday night at 8 p.m. and when he returned the morning of the parade, all fifty-one floats had had at least two tires slashed. There was no way they could repair the damage in time; the parade simply ran dozens of floats short. There were no cameras at the lot, and the hopes of catching the perpetrator are slim to none, though it is being pursued as a targeted hate crime.
Now 99.98% of the participants in the parade, myself included, did not have this information at the time. But even if we had known, even if it had rained on our proverbial parade, it wouldn’t have soured the mood. In fact, in may have only reinforced our sense of solidarity, brought us closer.
Still, it’s hard for me to fathom the time and research and just vitriolic perseverance that must have gone into the attack. Whoever the perpetrator was knew the location, knew the timing, had scouted it out, and knew he/she could get in, do it, and get away with it.
These kind of people are out there, Bub. They don’t speak for you or me or the vast majority of people. But they exist. And they’ll have to be tolerated.