Clocking in at 66 comments and counting, that will teach me to stumble into both gun policy and identity politics at the same time. Thank you everyone for participating in that rather spirited debate – I really appreciate this little slice of digital sky being used to fully discuss these ideas and in some cases, change my perspective on the issues discussed.
When I first investigated this story, my heart and perspective was with the members of the LGBTQ community who had faced very real threats and acts of violence. I remember two years back when I marched in the pride parade, there was a gentlemen open carrying a pistol at the very start of the parade route (right after you left Bellingham High School) carrying an anti-gay sign. There was a Bellingham police officer across the street keeping a close eye on him but the intimidation felt very deliberate.
So reading about this group marching in the Pride Parade made my heart go out this community facing more men with guns. However, the ensuing discussion definitely drove home how narrow that perspective was. There are proud gun-toting members already walking in the parade, I just didn’t know it.
There are proud LGBTQ and gun advocates doing their best to bridge communities and break stereotypes (special shoutout to Samantha’s story in the comments of the previous article). In many ways, my perspective on the open carry folks had been as limited as many of the outdated notions about gays and lesbians held by parade protesters and for that, I apologize.
Which brings me to my next point – open carry makes me really really uncomfortable. In my view, the sight of someone carrying a large (didn’t say high powered this time, just large) weapon through the streets in times of peace makes me deeply nervous, and many of the political actions engaged in by some open carry supporters seem . . . in my eyes . . . foolish.
To be clear, I’m talking about people walking around Target stores with semi-automatics or bringing Remington 870s into Starbucks. It seems like the wrong way to go about increasing people’s comfort with firearms. But that’s my perspective, my own discomfort, and I will continue to try to overcome that as I report on gun issues in our community.
I believe that Bellingham Pride did the right thing by not caving to pressure and keeping them as part of the event. I hope that their presence will not cause any fear or alarm among the community and hopefully, we can work on bridging these cultural barriers, as I hope our discussion already has.
The central message of pride is that all families are worthy of respect and appreciation – and tolerance begins with the communities that make you the most uncomfortable. See you all at the parade.