Carnival is a kind of syncretic, ritualised pageantry which displays a particular perspective. It is a brief moment in which life escapes its official furrows and enacts utopian freedom. It is a form of life at once real and ideal, universal and without remainder. Its defining feature is festivity – life lived as festive. It is also sanctioned by the highest ideal aims of human existence, not by the world of practical conditions.
ii. Why I have historically hated parades.
Because there are so many people, both within the parade and as observers. Because they are noisy. Because they are barely managed chaos. Because people express themselves in ways that can make me uncomfortable and nervous. Because the enjoyment thereof feels compulsory.
iii. In which I sign us up to walk in the Pride Parade.
When the call came out at our place of employ for any willing employees--faculty, staff, students--to participate in the parade for Pride Day, I thought: okay, let's. I knew the historian would want to. Because I have come to dislike festivals as well as parades, I had never attended Pride Day, not once.
As the day drew nearer, the decision to take part seemed less and less wonderful and more and more problematic. There would be a t-shirt, but what should I wear in the meantime? What shoes? How early to get up? What about Trax? or parking? The kind of niggling little objections that I knew wouldn't keep me from going--I had already said we would go--but would eat away at my potential enjoyment.
How hot would it be? Should I carry a bag?
In the end, we got up around 7:30 and left about 8:30. We got there with loads of time to spare, so I put my official t-shirt on (over a camisole, in case you're wondering about the 'what shall I wear in the meantime?' dilemma), and then chatted and sipped water with friends. In the shade (partial answer to the 'how hot would it be?' dilemma). Around us, other groups were assembling to walk in the parade, or ride a float, as the case may be. Ahead of us, the county mayor's van, a group of dancers; behind us, the kink and leather community. So many straps and kilts. And us, in our blue t-shirts. Students, staff, faculty.
Once the parade actually started, and we started moving--we were in the third stage, so that took quite awhile--I marveled at the following:
- thousands of people lining the streets of SLC. Thousands.
- So much color and sparkle!
- Why it's worth celebrating the ways that people are.
- The sheer energy of a camaraderie I saw everywhere.
- How good it felt to bring my own presence into that of others, in the cause of freely honoring this idea.
- My friends and acquaintances alongside me. One of my colleagues wore roller blades and zoomed around us in the most wonderful way.
- (this is the most remarkable thing:) how much I enjoyed myself.
'You're enjoying yourself,' the historian remarked.
'I know!' I said, as I waved at the folks on the sidewalks, as if it were important to communicate my happiness at being there.
iv. In which I consider my potential future parades.
As we walked back to our car, we chatted a little bit about the parade and the event. It really surprised me how many people were in the parade, and how many came to the parade. Truly, Salt Lake City has the power to surprise.
'Next year when we come, we'll have to dress up more colorfully,' the historian said.
I can imagine myself planning to participate like this in future years. I can also, truthfully, imagine myself having the same banal arguments with myself about all the little details. Because, truthfully, I did enjoy myself today, in some sense despite the parade...but I will keep thinking about that. For now, I want to remember everything that was good about today, and the way it felt good to publicly do this one thing, to share with others, by simply being there and walking with them, a belief and a longing for a better, more just, more open and more free world.
|(thanks, E.S., for snapping this picture.)|