The Gay Pride weekend happened in mid to late July in my city, and the Parade is usually fun for me, but this year I had the challenge of handling my children alone. I knew this would be a test of my patience and sanity because of the crowd and stimulation factor. There were so many colors, outfits, vendors, and (of course) lots of scantily clad people. I really didn’t have to explain much of what was going on, as my smaller children didn’t seem to notice the nudity. We made it through about half the parade before I had a hungry preschooler, and I knew a meltdown was on the way. My oldest daughter (the teenager) had arranged to meet her crush. Somehow in the confusion (mmmhmm) we arrived an hour before the parade began, leading us into where we are now. Impending meltdown, and two young hungry stomachs. I’ll give my oldest credit, she gave no fuss at all when it she was told it was time to go. Quick good-byes were exchanged amidst restless pleas for food. We beat a rapid retreat, walking quite a distance to where our car was parked. Coincidentally, the parking meter was due to run out any second. About halfway to our destination, we ran into the yearly presence of a certain hate group holding signs and hurling their hateful comments at people as the precession and bystanders passed. This was the first time in three years that I hadn’t been part of the military contingent in the parade, so I was actually close enough to hear what that group was screaming at everyone. Things like: “You’re all pedophiles!” “You were all molested!” and “You were all raped!” came hurling from their mouths. The energy of it hit me like someone had a flame thrower on my skin. They screamed things I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy, things I would never say to another human, much less to someone different from me. This kind of objectification I’ve only seen from bigots and hate-mongers, the kind of people who are blind to anything different from them. The negativity hit me harder this time because I was in the presence of my children. I’m not sure what happens inside of an adult that can scream and yell such mean things in a child’s face, to see that innocence and trust break down and fall apart in front of them. Maybe they don’t see it. Maybe they are so full of their own righteousness that they truly think hurting others is okay. I know hate and objectification are blind, making the object of attention not real or less than human. A thing. I got lucky, the police were there between them and me. My children didn’t seem to hear any of the hateful speech, and thankfully didn’t repeat any of the language. All I could think of was how hate blinds, and those that hate so intensely lose the capacity to love deeply and fully. Fear and hate create major blockages to love. They cover shame and guilt somewhere deep inside a person, and other types of unhealed wounds. The impediment of feeling love is a sad state to be in. Love is the most healing force on the planet, in my humble opinion. I’ve seen love heal family feuds, mend rape victims fear of men and sex, and put people on the path to healing depression. Love edifies like nothing else when expressed in a healthy way. To be separated from experiencing it is the only concept even close to the Christian Hell that I can imagine. These people are in a hell of their own creation, and they don’t even know it. That realization brought forth sadness for them, compassion for their unhealed hearts. I moved past as quickly as I could with tears in my eyes, nursing my triggers, yet filled with compassion for those poor people wasting energy screaming at us for existing on this planet differently than them. I could definitely find a better way to expend that energy. Couldn’t you?