Here are the remarks that I made at the first Pride Walk in Franklin County in Western Massachusetts. It was a delight and an honor to have a few moments “on the stage!”
Hello Friends! What an incredible thing it is to be here with you at this first Franklin County Pride Walk. Whether this is your first walk or you have walked all over the country in one town or another – welcome! Gay, straight, bi, trans, queer, cis, questioning… as we say in my church “Whoever you are, whoever your love, wherever you are in your life’s journey you are welcome here!”
Pam Parmakian used to be my neighbor when she and Elizabeth lived in Shelburne Falls. When Pam asked me to speak a few words today I was honored but confused – why me? And even more than that “What could I say, in a few words that would actually make a difference?” Her response was “Marguerite, I asked you to speak because you always lead with Love and that always makes a difference.”
All of you who like to dress up in a rainbow of colors recognize that Love comes dressed up – as Justice and Mercy and Peace and Hope for a better day. So today, with rainbows all around us – Love comes dressed in Justice, Mercy, Peace and especially today, in the colors of Hope!
The love of all of you and those who would like to be here but are still too afraid to come out in public – this love is not a passive, sit there and look cute kind of love. Love that leads is fierce and tender. Love that leads call us out and stays with us while we are out here. Love that leads challenges anything that smells like exclusion or closed doors or closed hearts. Love that leads makes us stronger because it infuses us with energy and joy and hope. It opens our eyes so we can see that is getting better and still there is more love to come.
In 1994 I stood with a group of people and faced the Northampton City Council – bringing a petition to allow people of either gender to register as a couple and entitling them to visitation and child care rights in schools, jails, and health care facilities. We had canvassed the city, spoken in churches and on the streets and had a lot of support for this modest proposal. We thought “Surely it will win a town vote.” Guess again – it failed that year by fewer than 100 votes. Ten years later Domestic Partnership rights was a dream of the past because Equal Marriage was the law of the land. And today, here we are, stronger together in Greenfield.
Nothing stays the same. It is getting better and leading with Love, and that is what you all do, leading with Love does make a difference. Love leads, loudly, persistently, and tenderly. What happens today will not be forgotten. It will lead to something better. Some of the questions are the same. Some are different than in the day when we walked in Gay Pride wearing bags over our heads to protect our identities. Today we celebrate proudly and boldly and we are much more diverse and united. Today is a great day. Tomorrow we will still lead with Love because it is not over. Thank you for giving me my moment on the stage – and thank you for coming out – whoever you are, whoever you love, we need you!