Posted By Ian on September 23, 2010
Last week I painted the world, and that weekend I attended the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade 2010.
This parade, the largest in Texas, has been held for the last twenty-seven years, and is Dallas’s annual gay pride parade.
This year, as in others, NTAUUS (the North Texas Association of Unitarian Universalist Societies) had a float for the parade. This year’s theme was “One Heart, One World, One Pride.” We began creating the earth a month before the parade. Using a very large balloon, the students and teachers from the UUCOC Religious Education program built a four-foot papier mache’ globe, and painted it blue. Once the blue paint had dried, my job was to add the continents. I first tried to draw them freehand, but that was less than effective. Instead, I chalked the equator, prime meridian, and other latitude and longitude lines for reference. I used the lines as if they were graph paper, and with a smaller globe nearby for reference, outlined the continents. A week later, the continents were all in place, and painted.
At the same time I was charting the world, my mother was constructing the giant yellow heart that we all recognize from the “Standing on the Side of Love” campaign logo. The heart would also be part of our float. My mother and I arrived at church every morning, and stayed until late in the afternoon, for a solid week completing both of these projects.
On Saturday, the day before parade day, my mother and I went to the church early, to meet Marcia and the rental truck. Carefully, we loaded the globe onto the truck, and secured it as well as we could. We drove to First Church in Dallas together, with Marcia driving the truck, me in the back protecting the globe, and my mother following us in her car, with the heart. Parts of the ride were harrowing, but we managed to get everything there in one piece.
The next step was to figure out how everything would go together, test it, take it apart, and then rebuild it all outside later that day, so it would be ready for attachment on Sunday.
On Sunday, we spent three hours making the float ready for the parade. In addition to the actual float, which included PVC tower adorned with banners, the globe (which sat atop the tower) and the heart, there were more 200 people representing almost all of the NTAUUS-affiliated churches, all carrying signs, and bursting with pride, Pride, PRIDE! We found later that we were the largest delegation from a religious organization.
Officially, there were 92 entries in the parade, and we were number thirty-one, which meant it was nearly an hour of impatience and exhaustion before we actually marched anywhere. I confess, that once we were moving I was terrified that the globe I’d spent so much time on would topple off the tower, but it didn’t, which left me free to help pass out hundreds of fans to spectators and fellow marchers alike. In fact, I was so energized by everything working as it should that my exhaustion evaporated, and I was able to actually run the fans from the truck to the people.
Several hours later, after the party had ended and the float had been dismantled, we regrouped at First Church where Daniel Polk (NTAUUS president and our group’s parade leader) showed off the trophy we had been given as our award for best social commentary.