Wayne Hinshaw: Watching Pride and prejudice
The 8th annual Salisbury Pride Festival on Saturday drew a large crowd of people with different perspectives on the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender).
I have covered the festival the past two years as a Salisbury Post photographer. This year I sat at the John Calvin Presbyterian Church tent with other church members letting people know that our church is “open to all and closed to none.” The meaning is our church would welcome the LBGT community to come and join our services.
Covering the event in the past, I always found that most everyone there was in a happy mood and welcoming to me as I approached them for discussion or photos. I don’t recall ever being turned away or treated rudely.
This year at the church tent, the situation was different. We had a sign welcoming visitors, but they had to come to us under the tent. Many did come by and talk about their personal difficulty in finding a welcoming church to attend. One man said he had attended a certain church for awhile, but he never really felt welcome. He was invited to our church. Whether he ever visits or not, I don’t know. Time will tell. Last year we had a church tent and made many invitations, but we had no takers in the following months.
Being at a welcoming church tent made us a target for religious protesters to attack us verbally with God’s condemnations and pure human hatred. It is easier to pour that hatred at another church than at the LGBT community. That is OK if they felt better being so bitter at us. We still held our position of trying to show the love of Jesus to all comers. The police did move the protester away from our tent.
Talking with many men dressed in drag was interesting. Called drag queens, they wear clothing that’s very feminine and really doesn’t conform to street dress, all for the purpose of entertainment. They wear big eyelashes and makeup for effect, and most are very professional, performing at various events. They welcome conversation and having their photos made. In a sense, they are the show.
The crowd watches in amazement or is entertained by the dance movements and song. The people on stage are not so different from any entertainer in costume doing his or her act.
As far as taste, you can take it or leave it.
I wonder about all the youth that come to the festival in various outfits. Some, of course, wear the LGBT colored flags wrapped around their shoulders. They are in all sorts of outlandish outfits expressing themselves in their freedom of dress. Some look more like they are on their way to a Halloween party than a LGBT festival. Are they really part of the LGBT community or just teenagers and 20-somethings having fun? I suppose it really doesn’t matter, either way. It is just for people like me to wonder.
There is the feeling of love all about the festival — the feeling of wanting to be loved and asking to be loved in their own way. They are spreading their wings, trying to find the freedom to fly. Sometimes the world is not ready to love everyone, so it can be risky business to open yourself up to others.
It is much like the late Beatles’ singer John Lennon sings in his song, “Imagine.”
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope that some day you will join us and the world will be as one. … Imagine all the people living life in peace.”
Wayne Hinshaw is a freelance photographer.
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