12 June 2011
In Albany, today was the day of the annual gay pride parade, which follows a route up Lark Street before turning right at Madison to march past the coin-op laundry I use on Sundays. I got out to late to see the parade, but as I crossed Madison I found an obnoxious remnant of the event. On the corner in front of the Dunkin Donuts parking lot stood about a half-dozen counterdemonstrators, denouncing homosexuality as a sin against God. These weren't hardcore haters in the Fred Phelps mode, but one did hold a sign saying, "Did You Enjoy Your STD?" while another sign warned, "Repent or Perish." I discovered them arguing with a group of celebrants across Lark Street. I couldn't make out what those counter-counter demonstrators were saying, but I did hear one of the homophobes advise those young people to go back to school and learn how to hold a civil conversation. I wanted to see more but I had to unload my clothes and get them started washing. By the time they were safely started and I stepped back out onto Madison, it had started to rain. Within a few minutes, after singing a hymn into a loudspeaker, the pious ones packed up their signs and left. Gay pride events were continuing in Washington Park at that moment, so it must be acknowledged objectively that it rained on both sides of this irrepressible debate. But from my limited perspective, watching the homophobes scatter, I could understand why so many people like to read judgment into such natural phenomena. The flaw in such thinking, of course, is that it's always selective. I doubt whether those sign-wavers felt that God had shown any disapproval of their protest by raining on them. But since I was happy to see them go, I guess I gave thanks to the rain anyway. I'm just not going to expect it to rain next time.