It’s been kind of a lovefest for my dad around here lately (luckily he doesn’t read this blog, lest his head swell to the size of the Goodyear blimp), and, as I may have previously mentioned, I don’t have a lot of love lost for this kind of guilt-trip-and-runny-Hollandaise holiday, but happy Father’s Day, anyway.

My present to K. this year was that he got to stay in bed until 1 p.m. while I bundled Thing One and Thing Two into the car, staked out a spot downtown on a forgotten block by the bank tower, and watched the Pride parade. Thing One was outfitted (at my suggestion, though he was all for it) in full gay regalia: gay rainbow socks, gay rainbow pants, gay pink Crocs, gay rainbow sweater (hand-knitted by the inimitable Jerusha Grosh) and, to top everything off, an exceedingly gay rainbow-striped umbrella, which he whirled jazzily as he capered gaily about. We got to hang around next to the horse-drawn carriage of the gay mayor elect (who is famously single, and who was fending off hottie schmoozers right and left) while watching some lesbian cops chat gaily with some gay roller derby competitors and admiring the gay balloon rainbow waving gaily over Davis St. Soon after the parade began, Thing One decided he wanted to march IN it, mostly because he admired the gaily flag-bedecked Radio Flyer of two children who already, at age three, had the traditional Portland lesbian haircut (the West Coast fade, which in San Francisco is the traditional Asian haircut, so I felt right at home), and so we took off in the midst of some group we don’t belong to, Thing One skipping about in the center of Broadway to wild cheers and looking entirely in his element. And, since my spermy life partner was busy snoozing away at our house, we were almost absorbed by a delightfully gay group called PLOP (!!), which stands for parenting/pregnant lesbians, and I’m grateful to them for being willing to welcome my skinny hetero ass into their midst, even if it does make me feel like a poser.

Thing Two, potential future lesbian, ravenous eater, and cutter of new front teeth that she is, was not very gay; instead, she slept the whole time in an Ergo carrier. Even when the gay Buddhists (my people!) went by gaily banging on taiko drums which, if you haven’t had the privilege to hear them at your local Obon festival, are hella loud.

Anyway, a gay time was had by all, although I was a little creeped out by the crucifix lollipops that gay Christians kept flinging at Thing One, and he did not appreciate the gay leis that various benevolent souls kept attempting to adorn him with, preferring to fling them to the floor. And we were a little bummed that Thing One’s gay aunt, who is our most immediate (biological, at least) connection to the local gayness, wasn’t more present (she showed up late, missing both gay armed forces and gay marching band, and then took off to meet friends, in one of those moves that you philosophically think is good because it shows your child that he’s not the center of the world even as it also makes you a little sad inside; also, I have a hard time with this because, though plans were a bit fuzzy, I think it’s important for adults to treat children with courtesy, i.e. by apologizing if they’re late, and I hate feeling like I created expectations in my kid that were then let down — all that is a lesson to me about Communication and Not Shielding Your Children Too Much from the Disappointments of the World, natch). But we Represented. We were there, and we were, if not fully queer, at least open to the possibility, and we were out, loud, and proud. I do not have any rainbow clothing, but I wore an extremely gay red sweater with a rather gay turquoise skirt and some insouciant knee socks; Thing Two was attired in a muted version of Thing One’s rainbow stripes. I teared up more than once (hand-lettered sign with a big slash through “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and “Let Us Serve with Pride and Honor”: check. Gay youth group with teenagers cheerily waving, looking really young and untried: check. Dyke with “Got Diversity?” sign: check. My kid’s stoic vigil, at the start of the parade, waiting for things to start and our people to get there, refusing offers of a lift and trying very hard to find his place in all the wild action, to relate to the goings-on and not be totally cowed by them (if you’re three feet tall, big fat gongs, big fat trucks, big fat bears, and big fat transvestites streaming by, all at volume 11, can be kind of intimidating):check). Since I’m not a joiner, a natural exhibitionist, or an easygoing parent, it took some guts to hang around in the middle of teeming masses of humanity and to let go of the fear that my kid would be lost/flattened/subjected to hate speech by ill-meaning passersby. And what that demonstrated to me is that it’s the gay parents in that gay parade who took the greatest risks; the parade is an affirmative culture if you’re the girly boy in the nylon hotpants running about giggling and getting spanked, but much less so if you’re a cautious two-year-old or a parent who loves one. Put another way: for the bears and the fairies, the parade is a fun celebration of what they are (and a chance to underline it in a positive way, to counter the discrimination, trials, and tribulations that go with that). For parents, it’s the occasion for courageous inclusion of children in a culture that is not always kind, intelligible, or inclusive of children, and perhaps — particularly for the constantly, rather than the merely occasionally, gay — a reminder of the difficult merging of childhood and a parental identity that is too often marginalized and may occasion discrimination, social difficulties, or confusion for the child.

I said I was a glass-half-empty type of person, didn’t I? It doesn’t come naturally for me, being gay. But we were there, and we remained reasonably gay, even though we wished we could have had a little more of a supportive social group (perhaps this is why I was so touched by the PLOPs, and they so forthcoming with me), and I’m glad we went, not least because, in my deliberate Antidiscrimination Programming of My Children, Pride was a milestone. Not for sexual orientation per se — they are two and eight months, and have no more complex ideas about sexuality than “it’s fun to play with my penis” — but a little bit for gender roles and dress (nothing like a bunch of hairy fags in red dresses to counteract ideas about what boys wear) and most of all for body diversity: your local Pride parade is when you’ll see the biggest, the biggest variety, and the most ostentatiously displayed bodies around. It’s hard to grow up prudish and obsessed with thinness when you’ve had dozens of hairy fat bellies and big-bottomed lesbians marching through your visual world concept in obvious glee your whole life.

Of course, this being the Whitest City in America, the gayness was a little pasty for my taste. Thank god for the ethnic pride groups (scanty and small though they were). But all in all, it was a pretty good Parenting Moment. Even though I felt a moral dilemma about claiming to Thing One that the aforementioned crucifix lollipops he’d collected were primarily toys (he’s never had a lollipop because I am That Kind of Parent. Yes, I make my own organic purees. Suck it). I did qualify that they were made of sugar, which he knows you can eat, but that the dyes made them not very good to eat and better for toys. Is that bad?

So as I reach the end of this post, I’m feeling like maybe it wasn’t such a great Father’s Day present to let K. sleep through all that. Probably the better present would have been to insist that he come along — except that he worked until five a.m. again, and he probably wouldn’t have appreciated being rousted from his bed that early for any reason.

And then, if we’d been in full nuclear family mode, I might not have gotten the love of the PLOP. So all’s well that ends well. Maybe next Father’s Day I’ll let K. take the kids to Pride by himself. He has an extremely gay multicolored tank top. And I know he enjoys a few appreciative leers.