Winds of Peace

How do you measure Gay Pride? Its power, poetry, song, and spirituality? How it affects not only those of us who dwell in this grand Gay capital, but the masses beyond these isolated peninsula shores, to the far reaches of the globe? How is our collective spirit, so intensely concentrated during Pride Weekend, affecting the larger universe?

A sage whispers in my ear: We’re changing the planet, for good, and none too soon. Our Pride, with all its multitudinous forms densely concentrated into a mass of hopes and dreams, is a force capable of shaping human destiny, something we’re only now beginning to comprehend, much less guide wisely. All of us – questioning, transgender, bisexual, gay and lesbian – are deeply concerned about Destiny, since it seems not so far off anymore. We have to wonder where we’re going not just as as participants in a movement, or residents of a city, or citizens of a nation, but as members of a species. Fate has been looking iffy lately, and Prozac more attractive than ever, so why don’t we just shrug and go belly up to the bar? Do you ever wonder why so many queens dance on ecstasy? It’s not to reach accord with the Republicans by suddenly making them feel all lovey dovey. It’s more like trying to find a safe place in the wilderness where ordinary cares can be shed, allowing for revelations to seep in. The problem is, in that ecstatic rush of intoxicating compassion and brotherly/sisterly love, a lot of guys lose contact with something basic. All the dancing and hugging in the world won’t win us peace here and now if it doesn’t have a direction, and a solid foundation. For flighty love to work earthly miracles, it needs community support and guidance, which means everyone in the community looks out for and respects everyone else, not just those with similar hair cuts and cars.

The way of savoring the heights of gay love, or any love, is the way of savoring a fine wine – knowing it intimately, breathing it in with complete clarity, pausing to reflect on its aroma, remembering where it comes from – the kegs, the vines, the earth. What makes a peaceful bouquet? A cornucopia of Pride mixed with sweat, tears, and soil.

Imagine. Peace. Last year at this time I dared to imagine peace was at hand, but in the yin/yang way of the world, my illusion was soon to be shattered. Global turmoil has reached proportions my boomer generation always feared, but never really expected to have to witness and bear. But why sweat the End of the World? My parents went through hell and back with the Great Depression and World War II, and somehow kept dignity intact. Can’t I do as well?

As a boy, I imagined peace my whole life. I don’t know why. My family fought. It was a blue-collar household in the old Southwest. My dad was a liquor salesman, and my mom the prettiest nurse in the the territory. Dad was always jealous. Imagine. Not peace.

Love, respect, dignity – these are qualities Arthur Anderson couldn’t balance in a ledger book even if they tried honestly. Why then am I always wanting to save the whole cruel world, and not just my own sorry ass?

Because I’m gay! There’s just something about it, when your focus is not on conceiving new life, but on nurturing the life that already exists, you discover inwardly what’s needed to help the species survive outwardly. Maybe it’s in the genetics of being gay. I can’t allege it with any scientific certainty, but I feel it. It’s a poet thing. To contemplate peace is poetry, and no one is in a better position to do the task than queers, who are forever thinking outside and all around boxes. Maybe we were born to be peacemakers.


This essay appeared in print in the Bay Area Reporter on July 4, 2002, following the LGBT Pride Parade and Celebration in San Francisco.