It’s Time for Mountain PRIDE

It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend. Started Thursday when the family and I headed for San Francisco for 36 hours.  You see, I was being interviewed for the Gay Dad Project film about growing up with a gay parent. Only I was giving the project the extra added bonus of having a lesbian mother, a gay stepfather, lesbian sister in law, and a fairy gay godfather. I was happy to spill the beans and wave my flag in solidarity. And being with the Gay Dad Project people on Friday just made me feel at ease and at home. Like there was nothing I really needed to explain about how I grew up . It was all just there. 

And coming home with my husband late Friday night, I still felt that elation of a job well done, of PRIDE, of representing the familia well, of setting a good example for my kids. Amie Shea’s dad Pete gave me an extra gay bracelet to wear—metallic rainbow beads–and I was wearing it proudly. Everything felt good.

And then I went to a BBQ when we got back to the mountains. And I’ve got good friends up here and they know some good people. But I was totally forgetting that gay marriage was once again in the news in California and that it would be a talking point for BBQs and what not. I forgot that straight rural America with its celebration of all things PDA straight would feel the need to comment about ‘two men kissing’ or ‘two women kissing’ . I honestly had had that issue so stripped from my consciousness that I forgot it was an issue. 

But it’s still apparently an issue.

It’s beautiful out here in the woods and the mountains. But with beauty and small town living comes small town minds and small town conformity. It’s okay to be an unwed mother (good–no shame). It’s okay to be a drug dealer (ummmmm). It’s okay to divorce and remarry a string of guys who pass a girl around (getting sketchier). It’s okay to have more firearms than furniture (check please). It’s okay to make kids who aren’t rednecks feel like crap (stop. right. there.).

A woman I met who moved away from here in order to become successful told me that she and her husband nicknamed the malaise that runs through her ‘Plumas Paralysis’. That’s about right. It’s beautiful up here. Jobs are scarce. But God-fearing, families on welfare who vote Republican and are against entitlements are plentiful if not consciously paradoxical.

There’s no room for gay PRIDE here. To be gay means to not love this way of living. Or something like that.  

A year or so ago after the last batch of teen suicides up here , people got together to form an anti-suicide coalition. Kids dont have choices here. They have alcohol or they have church and nothing in between. How to tell them that salvation lies in between?

I hope one Sunday in June in the not so distant future that amongst our Pioneer Day parade and our 4th of July parade and our Gold Diggers parade —-all there to celebrate the white man’s ‘discovery’ and settling of already settled mountain valleys—that we find room for mountain PRIDE. A way to be free to be one’s self out in rural America instead of having to hide in the trees.

About Margaret Elysia Garcia

Margaret Elysia Garcia is the author of short story ebook collection Sad Girls and Other Stories, and the audiobook Mary of the Chance Encounters, and the co-founder and lead playwright of Las Pachucas, theatrical troupe. She teaches creative writing and theatre in a California state prison.
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