So I was invited to march in the Gay Pride Parade. What to wear? Nothing is really out of limits at these things. In fact, “nothing” was the choice of many of my fellow marchers, or close enough to it. I considered frothing up with an expanse of white tulle and a flowered hat. And then I scanned my closet, and there it was–the perfect outfit. My wedding dress. From 1983. It still fits! Well, it’s a little tight in the neck region now, but I don’t want to talk about that. What you’re supposed to do with your wedding dress is have it dry-cleaned and wrapped in plastic and hung up in your closet until you die, and then let someone else figure out what to do with it. This way I’d get a whole ‘nother day out of it.
My friend Kevin sewed the thing for me to perfection. It was one of those Folkwear patterns, Victorian Wedding Dress, with lots of lace and ribbon. “What color ribbon do you want?” she asked at the fabric store, assuming that “white” was not going to be the theme. I picked out pink and blue; maybe I was hedging my bets about the sex of the baby we were definitely not going to have. “Pink and blue,” she repeated, to give me a chance to reconsider. “You’ll look like bunting.” She was right. Politicians could give speeches on top of my head. Despite my ribbon choices, the dress looked fine.
Dave thought marching in it was a grand idea. He tied my ribbon sash for me, admired his old bride, and promised to help me out of the dress when I came home. “Have fun! Bring home a nice tall girl,” he said. The dress isn’t the only thing from that wedding that still fits.
It was raining off and on, so most of the time I had the dress bunched up in my fist with my non-waving hand, revealing my Keens and colored socks. I was marching alongside my friend, the delicious and willowy Pat Lichen, done up in basic black and rainbows, and we were a hit. “We?” she queried. Oh yes. “Congratulations!” we heard, up and down the parade route. “She’s the lucky one,” I confided to onlookers, because I am just that obnoxious. It was a great day. We were marching with the Unitarians, spot #94, just behind the Pugs For Pride.
I’ve heard disgruntled people complain about the whole pride thing. “I don’t see why anyone needs to flaunt all that,” they say. “You don’t see me strutting around being all obvious about being straight.” Well, yes, we pretty much do, but never mind that. There’s a point to be made that it is silly to be “proud” of the way you were born; proud of being white, for instance. But in this case Pride is the opposite of Shame. It hasn’t been that long since people were afraid to march in such a parade, in case someone from their church or neighborhood or workplace saw them.
Twenty-five years ago I picked up my friend Margo in my 1969 International Harvester pickup truck. I had a spike haircut and was rocking a loose pair of denim overalls. She looked me over. “Oh,” she said, approvingly, “you could ‘pass.'”
Now I can “pass” in a wedding dress.