Seattle Pride was a huge success. Easily over 100,000 people participated in the Pride Festival and Parade. We made history by displaying the Pride Flag for the first time ever on top of the Space Needle. Politics were not shoved aside, but were prominently intermingled with more festive celebratory activities.
Most notably, Representative Jim McDermott gave a passionate speech about the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
His speech was so moving, veterans were brought to tears as they hung on his every word. Organizers invited gay and lesbian veterans to the front of the stage where they received roses and coupons for a dozen cupcakes.
McDermott told the crowd, "You don't need to call your House members any more. We get it. The Senate is the road block. Call your Senators and tell them to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell now!"
My partner Joe Brokken was among the Veterans that chose to come forward. He too was moved to tears. It was the first time I saw him cry about his experience in the closet while serving in the Iowa National Guard. "These wounds may never heal," he said.
After the speech was over, the sun broke through for a moment. The enormous pride flag topping the Space Needle glowed over the thronging crowd. Dance music bounced, while young men and women stripped naked in the Seattle Center Fountain.
The smell of carnival food tickled our noses as I grabbed Joe's hand. I always feel like I am getting away with something when we publicly walk hand in hand -- even in an environment like Seattle Pride. "Shall we go?" I asked.
His hand remained firmly in mine. We passed tourists who were accidentally at the Space Needle on Pride. They stared at us. One man looked, then quickly looked away as his girlfriend exited their car. I felt uncomfortable, but did not let go.
The number 2 bus pulled up and the bus driver shouted, "Hop on boys!" She was clearly enjoying her day. The bus was full of gay men heading back to Capitol Hill for parties, or perhaps like us, for a chance to return to our normal life.
"What do you want to cook for dinner?" Joe asked while squeezing my hand.
"I don't know, why don't you cook and I'll start the laundry," I said.