Last weekend was the third weekend of August, one in which Madison’s LGBT+ community celebrates and puts on a show. Normally, that would have included a parade up State Street and a rally around the Capitol Square. This year, however, thanks to city ordinances, police department demands, and organizational logistics, event organizers went back to the future, as it were…
Earlier this month, yours truly reviewed Queer Shorts: Spirit of Stonewall, which had its very last performance at the Bartell Theatre this afternoon. In that review, I mentioned the backdrop Stage Q employed for this Queer Shorts edition. It a basic setup of a black curtain bathed by projected lights from overhead. The lights can change colors with the flip of a board switch, including the 6 colors of the LGBT rainbow.
More than the color of the curtain or the lights, there is something else about the backdrop that I found absolutely striking: To match the “Spirit of Stonewall” theme of this last Queer Shorts, Stage Q included photos, mostly 8x10s, of various images from local and national LGBT history. The photos were strung together in vertical arrays along the curtain, each pic about a foot apart. You can see what I mean in the below image of the Queer Shorts cast Stage Q posted on Facebook prior to their second to last performance.
Okay, I promised some stuff I had left over from but didn’t have room in my last post about the 2018 OutReach Pride Parade & Rally that occurred last Sunday (August 19). Unlike that previous post, I promise I won’t even bring up the controversy that surrounded the parade this year. Nope, this will be all positive. The first thing is that though some of the same socialists who despised the police being at pride also despised the presence of corporate sponsorship (no, I’m not gonna get any darker than that in this post), there was, without mistake, a sincere presence of businesses who wanted to show their support of the LGBT+ community. Just as with the charities, non-profit organizations, and church and advocacy groups that also populated the parade, they made it known that they truly support our community and do not venture to discriminate against us. That they also do so with their checkbooks and accountants through their sponsorship of Pride does not (and should not) hurt, no matter what your level of disdain of the corporate world. And, yes, sometimes I do think this world has gotten all-corporate, if you know what I mean. Still, I do understand the necessity of having a benevolent, philanthropic sponsor offering cash. Continue reading
It’s been a full week, one that’s been somewhat busy and very wet, since the OutReach Pride Parade & Rally, but I’m finally ready to share with you some of my experience. As I’ve mentioned here and here, this year’s parade and rally was held under an ugly shadow, not from any rain clouds but under the specter of controversy. A loud contingent from Madison’s LGBT+ community raised a ruckus over the presence of the Madison Police Department at the parade, with some threatening to stage a counter-protest. In the end, parade organizers withdrew the applications of LGBT+ employee resource groups from MPD and UW—Madison Police as well as the Dane County Sheriff. Members from those groups could (and did) march in the parade, but had to do so unarmed and out of uniform. (Side note: The Madison Fire Department decided to withdraw one of their engines from the parade in sympathy to the boys in blue; it was MFD’s decision.) While OutReach’s move to formally eliminate the police entries upset some parade supporters and still likely upset some protesters (especially since the parade permit still required MPD to provide security), the parade and rally (**SPOILER ALERT**) went off without a hitch and without any rabble-rousers causing disruptions.
I’ve been away from WordPress for over a week and, boy oh boy, has a lot happened around here. For one, I am in the midst of new temporary employment, which I promise to expound on in a later post. But I want to devote this post to a little something… okay, a rather big something that’s been going on here in Madison, one that has plagued the biggest and most important event in Madison’s LGBT+ community.
I’ll cut to the chase and let you know of the outcome: There will be an OutReach Pride parade this coming Sunday afternoon, starting at the west end of State Street, circling once around Capitol Square, and ending with a rally. And baring anything unforeseen on my end, I will be there as Allison and marching with fellow members of our crossdressing/transgender support group.
You may be reading that and are thinking that there was a possibility that the parade and rally wouldn’t be taking place at all. On the contrary, the event is not in any danger of not taking place. However, it will be taking place without one prominent group of participants — law enforcement. Had they been part of the parade, there would have been another prominent group with real disdain for law enforcement who would have boycotted the event.
Yay! It’s the day of the summer solstice here in Wisconsin, a day to appreciate the abundant amounts of sunshine that make summer, well, summer. If you see any sunshine where you are, would you mind sending some our way? That’s because the weather forecast here in Wisconsin calls for rain all day. And we’ve had more than enough rain the past week or so.
At least the home of my beloved Milwaukee Brewers has a convertible roof to keep out the rain when necessary. And tonight they’ll need it closed, for tonight the Brewers will host their very first “Pride Night” at Miller Park. Themed nights and sports teams go together like hand in well-worn baseball glove, and we’re not just talking “2 brats for $1 nights” either. There have been everything from ethnic heritage nights to weird jersey nights to “retro nights” to movie nights. Of the latter, Star Wars nights have been a big draw the past few years, especially in the minor leagues with their jerseys patterned after, say, Stormtroopers or Jedi masters.
Nights with more grounded themes have also been featured, including “Pride Nights” to celebrate the LGBT community. Major League Baseball has seen an increase in Pride Nights in recent years, though some of its clubs have been laggards in paying official acknowledgement to our community. Heck, whole leagues such as the NBA and WNBA have lapped MLB in paying respect to the LGBT community.
Thankfully, however, MLB has been on the ball (so to speak) in acknowledging and embracing the LGBT community in recent years. And tonight (June 21), the Brewers will become the 23rd MLB team (out of 30) to officially stage a LGBT-oriented event during the 2018 regular season. To borrow a quote from the Brewers’ website, this is a night aimed at “celebrating diversity and inclusion within the Brewers fan base, the Milwaukee community, and all of Major League Baseball.” The events are slated to include a tailgate outside Miller Park held by the Milwaukee Gay Sports Network; the rainbow-themed shirt you see to your right; and, for those who purchased a special ticket package, the opportunity to participate in a pregame parade on the Miller Park warning track. (Yes, the chance to actually go on the field!)
How this Brewers’ Pride Night came about is a sweet story in itself. A year ago, a Milwaukee resident and Brewers fan by the name of Hilary McCabe sent a note to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Jim Stingl lamenting the fact that the Brewers have never held some sort of in-game promotion to connect with the LGBT community. Stingl forwarded that note to the Brewers’ vice-president of communications. A few days after that, the Brewers formally joined the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce. And earlier this year, when the Brewers released their roster of theme nights for the 2018 season, a Pride Night was included for the very first time… and appropriately enough during the traditional LGBT pride month of June.
As a Brewers fan and a part of the broad LGBT community, I’m so happy to see that the Brewers are embracing and officially acknowledging the LGBT portion of their fan base and our community as a whole. It’s a great move, and part of a continuing move that began back in 2001 when the Chicago Cubs held their first “Out at Wrigley” event. (Kudos to the Cubs for actually staging two LGBT pride events here in 2018, one earlier this month and the annual Out at Wrigley event coming up in August.) There are now only two Major League Baseball teams who have never held an official pride night during their histories, the Yankees and the Angels. Here’s hoping those two teams will finally get get on the ball (so to speak) and stage their own pride nights in 2019.
Oh, one must-read link to share with you: If you think a pro sports team holding a night to embrace the LGBT community seems like small potatoes to you, think again. Luke Schaetzel of the website SconnieSportsTalk.com (“An official student organization of the University of Wisconsin-Madison”) wrote a great opinion piece about the Brewers staging this event. Luke ponders that somewhere out there, some young Brewers fan who’s struggling with their sexual and/or gender identity and feels alone and shut out will tune in to the game tonight and see the rainbow shirts and related paraphanelia. And then, he writes, “That fan, that kid, is going to feel a hell of a lot better knowing their favorite baseball team supports who they are.” Indeed, this relatively small move on the Brewers’ part will make a whole lot of difference in the long run. Please read Luke Schaetzel’s opinion piece at this link.
Hard to believe that it’s been a month and a day since I stepped out for the very first time as Allison in the OutReach Pride Parade & Rally. To be honest, it feels like it was only yesterday that I dressed up and marched with my fellow members of the trans community, our supporters, and folks from the broad LGBT+ community in the Madison area.
While I try to keep the euphoria of that Sunday afternoon lingering in the top of my memory for a while, if not longer, I wanted to bring up a few leftover items from the day. First off, the security. In the days leading up to the parade and rally, the organizers felt concerned about something sinister happening that afternoon, a concern escalated since it fell just days after the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia. With that, they had announced on Facebook that they were working with the Madison Police Department to step up security for the event, just in case… you know…
Last weekend, I finally had the opportunity — and more importantly, the courage — to do what I had long hoped to do: March as Allison in a LGBT pride parade.
Sunday was the day of the OutReach Pride Parade & Rally (the above logo is from the event website). As you may recall my telling you in this post about last year’s parade, the event has been put on since 2014 by OutReach, which is the LGBT community resource and support center here in Madison. As it has since 2015, the parade and rally was held downtown, with the parade going up State Street and circling Capitol Square before ending at a rally point where State Street meets the square. The OutReach Pride Parade & Rally has grown each year since its establishment. In fact, this year organizers had to cut off the number of registered parade entrants at 77, since there was just no room for any more.
Happy weekend, peoples! I’m writing this post on a “tape-delay” Friday evening; hopefully, if the WordPress settings are accurate, this will be delivered to you first thing Saturday morning. Why am I writing this on Friday night and posting it on Saturday morning? Well, I’m going to be very busy not just Saturday morning but all weekend; I’ll talk my to-do list in a moment.
First, though, I want to tell you about a celebration occurring southeast of Madison, in a place called Walworth County. It’s just over 102,000 in population; it’s mostly though not entirely rural; it’s generally conservative in culture; and it’s home to the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, the Alpine Valley resort and music theater, and the vacation spot Lake Geneva. And on Saturday, it will hold its first ever LGBT “pride fair,” conducted from 10AM to 3PM on the Chamber of Commerce grounds in the county seat of Elkhorn.
Yep, you read that post title correctly: Madison is such a cool city artistic-wise that we have not one but two separate, neighboring, coexisting — and free — art fairs that occur downtown on the 2nd weekend of July every year.