When I moved to Oregon, everyone talked about how green it was. The trees, the flora, even the ocean as the sun shines translucently through a breaking wave on the Oregon coast. That’s my favorite.
Of late, however, green is not the color that predominates my thoughts when I think of Oregon. Not because Oregon isn’t still green. Trust me, when it rains up to 100 inches a year, green is inevitable since it literally grows everywhere. On my porch deck, on the seal around my front-loading washer, on the socks I left outside for 13 minutes last night… but I digress.
No, it’s because like many Americans, I see things in blue and red these days, the colors that by virtue of network TV news have become part of our language. Oregon, of course, is very blue, being a liberal state. States like Texas are very red – and where I’ve spent the last two weeks.
Now, being from a blue state, it’s very simple to describe what I predominantly hear about red states: that they are highly conservative, and full of people with a gun in one hand and a Bible in the other. Needless to say, they are not known as particularly LGBT-friendly places. Let’s face it, Ted Cruz is not the kind of person I’d want representing me.
Here’s the funny thing, though: about 50 percent of Texas doesn’t seem to want Cruz to represent them, either. He’s currently neck-and-neck in the polls with “Beto,” the Democratic party candidate for U.S. Senate. Until I stood in front of a hundred of his supporters in the Dallas Pride parade, I’m not sure I knew that.
And yes, I did say “Dallas Pride parade.” They have one, through the LGBT district of the city on Cedar Springs Road. And while it might not be as long as Seattle’s or Portland’s, it is every bit as enthusiastically supported. In fact, the Pride celebration here has gotten so big that they’ve had to stage it over the course of a weekend, instead of just a day, to make sure everyone gets to take part.
The [Dallas] Pride celebration has gotten so big that they’ve had to stage it over the course of a weekend, instead of just a day, to make sure everyone gets to take part.
But that’s still not the best – and most surprising – part, for here’s the thing: even when it’s not Pride weekend, I’ve found Dallas for the most part to be safe, affirming, and even empowering. I’d be lying if I said I expected that. And not just the “gay-borhoods” of Dallas – but everywhere. From Red Oak down south, to Flower Mound in the west, to Denton up north, I’ve been treated with respect and kindness. More than once I had people take the time to tell me about their LGBT experiences. And they weren’t quiet about it; they didn’t say it with a whisper. There was vocal pride in their Pride.
Now, do I think Dallas is perfect? I don’t; I heard negative stories as I talked to the different transgender people. None of them, certainly, saw Dallas as perfect. Being laughed at and asked at a drive-thru if I was coming from a costume party didn’t exactly make my day, either. But that happened to me on the Oregon coast once, too, and as I noted, I still love it.
I’m leaving Dallas today, headed back to Oregon for a few days before my next research adventure. I’m looking forward to going; I miss my daughter, my kitties, and my friends; two weeks is a long time.
But here’s the thing: I’m looking forward to coming back to Dallas. And if I could pack up my village of family, friends, and fur, I’d be happy to bring them all here and stay for a bit longer. Because what I’m not doing is wanting to leave – and when I planned this trip I very much thought I might. Indeed, I think as that plane lifts off the ground I’ll be feeling very blue, indeed.