And so, rather than watch from the crowded sidelines, we walked through the streets of Lakeview, with friends and their five year old daughter. Most of us walked, some of us rode, in a stroller decorated for the occasion by Mary and Kate. They began working last week, retiring to the playroom with markers, crayons, paper and poster board. An hour later there were signs, "Be Yourself", with letters in various shapes and colors, and two large rainbows. "Why rainbows?" I asked, and Mary answered, "because we are all different colors, just like rainbows".
While I shelter my children from pop culture, from Hannah Montana and ICarly and things that I find to be too mature for their six year old selves, I have no problem walking them the four mile parade route of the annual Pride festival. Exposing them to different cultures and lifestyles, to young and old, gay and straight, will hopefully give them a basis for understanding who they are far greater than the teenage cable channels. Teaching them about being yourself and celebrating who you are is more important than allowing them to follow tween culture that encourages uniformity and conformity to one set of ideals.
At six, pride is not about sexuality but individuality. The terms gay and straight are not part of their repertoire because they don't need to be; at six they don't have to navigate the real world where who you are is so frequently defined by who you love. And at six, they don't know who they might be, nor do I, and it is important that they understand now that we will always love and respect them, in whatever way they define themselves in years to come.
Peace, it's the summer of love in our neighborhood. Kick off your shoes, relax, but please look the other way when the inflatable, excitable, and anatomically correct man appears along the parade route. At six, we're not ready for that.