Pride and Prejudice…

…in Idaho Falls

Kallen, now outed (like me) as gay in our coaching re-training camp in Idaho, returned briefly to his home in nearby Idaho Falls and returned with the local newspaper Post Register. Thursday September 12th edition. Amazingly, for a local ‘rag’ in a state which has not implemented anti-discrimination laws, it has two gay-related items on the front page, plus half a page of letters and a huge editorial feature dedicated to one of them!

1240493_567035096666347_1923225392_nFirst of all, news of the inaugural Idaho Falls Gay Pride 2-day festival, which took place last weekend. Its organisation followed the preliminary adoption of an anti-discrimination ordinance by the city council back in June, a process started because the State had not done so…

--031010288_566967283339795_1480488423_nIt was a modest affair, with a showing of the film Bridegroom on Friday evening and a parade, with a music fest and some other supporting activities on Saturday. But the somewhat amazing thing about it was that it happened at all, although Kallen says that the majority of Idaho Falls citizens appeared to support it. One of the more notable features of this festival was that it was advertised (with a single event excepted) as ‘family friendly’ and gained the support of some surprising organisations, including the gay/straight alliance from local schools and even the Mormon church.

And, according to reports, everyone had a great time.

1233599_565682833468240_198501438_nI’ll come back to the local LGBT scene in a moment, but first of all a quote from a letter in the same edition, but on another subject – a celebration of the Pride that participating in sports brings, both for the participant and for the parent, who wrote:

“…it has been interesting to watch the dynamics of the new coaching staff that was established when my son Jeshua entered High School. These past two years I have appreciated the opportunities that the new dynamics have brought to my son, such as working as a team, and that those who apply themselves with dedication in practice are the ones who play. There has also been a pointed emphasis on safety through weight training, being a student first and then an athlete, as well as planning for the future, not just living the moment. The value and pride is in the whole person, not just athletic ability…”

What a wonderful ‘pat on the back’ for the coaching ethic which I am here in Idaho in this course to renew! How could I not endorse that letter, not least the reference to weight training, but what benefits the whole process of pursuing excellence in sport can bring. The sport in question (American football) is not the issue. It applies anywhere – my sports included:

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Thank you, Lettie Stradley-Bass, for such a wonderful letter support our ethic. Which brings me to the prejudice. The other item occupying half of the newspaper!

I mentioned the local anti-discrimination  ordinance, which surely is a good thing and clearly a vast majority of Idaho Falls citizens support it. However, a tiny minority, led by one Brett Wright, who just possibly has a hidden anti-gay agenda, has posted notices around the town (I noticed them when I arrived into the airport en route to Pocatello) which shout ‘Do you support allowing boys into the girl’s locker rooms?or words to that effect. This guy has also e-mail 5000 local citizens implying that the full interpretation of the anti-discrimination ordinance forbids discrimination in ‘housing and employment’ (good!) and in ‘public accommodations’ – thus no single-sex bathrooms or school locker rooms!! The hidden implication, too, although not stated, is that there will be predatory gays doing the rounds in such places, and that everyone’s children are in danger.

Waterstone's Piccadilly 2I have realised that I was gay since 2000 and spent my time subsequently in the loving and caring company of numerous gay friends with whom I train and perform: I have a wonderful partner, and each of us has sired a child for lesbian friends whom we also love, not least for the joy their request to us has subsequently brought us all. We are devoted to those kids – now eleven years old, as many posts in this blog would testify. None of us has ever felt inclined to prowl around any kind of ‘public accommodation’, none of us could even conceive of becoming a paedophile… it is all just a ridiculous exaggeration. I have written down much about our love, our lives as gay athletes and performers, coming out, being open about our status… two books shown left, and a third (Against All Odds) completing the cycle. I called them, overall, Living the Dream, an awfully clichéd title, but it has been just that, even when fate threw a little shit into the fan.

933935_553505344685989_498325431_nI have formally banned cats from this blog (Dave always wants to put them in – it’s his ‘thing’ I suppose) but, on this occasion, I relent. I found the picture (left) on the Idaho Falls Pride Facebook page.

The outcome of the city Council debate last Thursday was to confirm the ordinance but to omit ‘public accommodations’ from the anti-discrimination legislation. The police were expecting ‘trouble’ between the campaigners and others from the public attending the meeting, but it seems that there was none. So no-one will be allowed to demand access to opposite-sex toilets citing anti-discrimination legislation (but who would?). It seems that common sense prevails in Idaho Falls, and the city sets a great example to others.

I feel a need now to post some pictures of loving gay partners, especially for Mr. Wright:

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Next, ‘A taste of honey’

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imagesSo there we are ‘For the Benefit of Mr Wright’ (to distort the song lyric!). Yes, we’re gay. Yes, we’re proud. Parade around near-naked in public to make a point – no. Not our scene (quite different in our training and ‘fun’ times though…). I think that I’ve made my stand clearly enough in print (and e-books too!) and in this blog. But we can all stand together against hate, I think.

And I should also stand together with my fellow authors and give due credit – thanks to Jane Austen for the title of this post and to ‘honey’girl’ Shelagh Delaney for her excellent play.

And thanks to my ‘honey’ of the past 13 years. Love you, Dave… home Thursday morning!!

About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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