Community members gather in Soldotna on Friday, June 17, 2022 to celebrate Pride month. People marched from the Soldotna Sports Complex to Soldotna Creek Park donned in rainbow-colored attire and wielding flags and signs supporting the LGBTQI+ cause. Waiting at the park were people with different advocacy and resource agencies, as well as entertainment and refreshments. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Community members gather in Soldotna on Friday, June 17, 2022 to celebrate Pride month. People marched from the Soldotna Sports Complex to Soldotna Creek Park donned in rainbow-colored attire and wielding flags and signs supporting the LGBTQI+ cause. Waiting at the park were people with different advocacy and resource agencies, as well as entertainment and refreshments. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Voices of the Peninsula: Grow up and leave your prejudices behind

We do not have to agree — but we do have to raise the next generation of children to love, honor, and get along with one another

  • By Elizabeth McDonald
  • Thursday, July 7, 2022 11:53pm
  • Opinion

By Elizabeth McDonald

If you’ll indulge me a moment, I’d like to paint a picture for you:

A group of colorfully dressed individuals gather in a supportive atmosphere, and walk through town, brandishing flags, signs and love and friendship amongst them. The overall feeling is a joy in their sense of self, as well as a ring of protective energy by those who support them on their personal journeys.

That protective ring is necessary, because on the corners along this route, are church groups and other groups that hold up signs with hateful slogans on them, yelling angry words, threatening words, and doing all they can to deny the love and light walking toward them.

Nearby, a group of moms and grandmas offer hugs to those who want them, and/or need them. Many of the colorful parade take advantage. It is nice to feel wanted, and *seen* after all the hate they just walked past.

They go into a park, where they have rented the space in a well-advertised and marked venue for the event, and have a picnic, and listen to some music, and visit some vendors, and feel supported and loved and whole. This is not a place that is in secret — they do not have to hide, they do not have to be anything other than themselves, and they are being joyful and respectful behind the GIANT BANNERS and flags at the entrance, marking it as a PRIDE event.

They are entertained by some drag queens from Anchorage. These ladies dance and lip sync their way across the stage, and through the crowd. There are acrobatics and spins and yes, some twerking. There is joy and smiles and cheers and laughter as they take the tips gleefully offered them. The crowd applauds, and laughs and dances and overall the feeling is love, and acceptance and JOY in being alive.

Clearly, I was there, along with my daughters, both adults. But I want you to understand, that had these events happened when my children were younger, I would have brought them to them without qualm — including the drag queens that started performing at about 7:30 p.m. (not the middle of the day). When I was raising my daughters, these events were not available, or accepted. And while we still stand against the bigotry and hatred today, at least they are available. Representation matters. My girls are both part of the LGBTQIA+ community, as am I. I fought to raise them to be fiercely independent, and vocal and PROUD of who they are, with no roadmap to navigate hatred from the Kenai/Soldotna area. We are very much a church-dominated area, but in my experience, those who lead these churches and hate groups are so very often those with the most to hide. Worse, some don’t hide their hypocrisy at all.

Be that as it may — the problem that people are locked onto is not even a problem. The dancers danced. I have seen more provocative dances from the local dance troupes done by much younger girls, and nary a word from many of the same people complaining today. I have seen cheer routines that were far more sexually charged and explicit than anything the Queens did, and no one cried foul. I have seen belly dancers shimmy and shake to wild applause by some of the very same people raising a stink here, in the middle of the day, in various venues, at public events — and all of the above were by, and in front of, the children.

So I beg of you — ask yourself why you are really angry? Why are you spouting such hatred, wrapped in a thin veil of “protect the children”? Because in the end, you are proving YOUR colors, while trying to stomp out ours. This is hatred. This is bigotry. This is homophobia.

The parents who attended the event knew there were going to be drag queens — it was widely advertised and the reason why some attended. The stage is faced away from the playground that keeps being brought up, and you did not have to enter the venue to play, at 7:30-8 p.m. at night. The event was clearly marked — if you entered, you did so knowingly, and with a perhaps unacknowledged desire to be offended. We have the right to raise our children — as do you. We do not have to agree — but we do have to raise the next generation of children to love, honor, and get along with one another.

Bottom line: This was a reserved venue for an event. No laws were broken. There was no indecency. The call for someone’s figurative head on a platter is ridiculous and childish at best. Grow up. Do better. Protect the children — not from dancers, acceptance and love, but from your own irrational prejudices, and homophobic hatred.

Elizabeth McDonald lives in Kenai.

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