While enjoying an otherwise beautiful family weekend in northern Michigan one of my uncles repeatedly heckled me about the gay pride parade going on that weekend. The day after the Au Sable River marathon canoe race there is the Black Bear bike century. Not a whole lot going on up there other than beatiful country, so I'd think locals would be happy for the annual economic boost and camaraderie from the pair of events.
At first I didn't catch on to my clever uncle's ruse. First thought was, "Wow! A gay friendly culture in Northern Michigan?" But after pressing his point and commenting on spandex, I realized that I was supposed to feel insulted. This particular family member has gigged me ever since I came up to a family weekend sporting nail polish.
After his 2nd or 3rd mention of the parade, and my unsuccessful attempt to turn the confusing attack into a chat about bike tours and gas prices, I pointed out that four others in the room were cyclists. That number included my father, Bill Cherolis, standing just behind the persistent uncle. My dad rides a recumbent, has a beard (reqd for bent riders), and gloriously bonked at mile 120 of the Ride Across Indiana a couple years ago.
Now that the attack was defused, I'm blogging on it to exercise the underlying issue - the fear and hatred of the Other. Be that other a bicycle rider, a homosexual, or in my uncle's wildest dreams - both. I know my own tendencies to group with and feel comfortable with people that look like me and share my worldview. That said, comfort with similar doesn't have to result in fear and hatred of those that are different. I would hope that reasonable discussions and our shared humanity would encourage a more universal approach to difference. Perhaps I was too uncomfortable to start a discussion directly, but maybe this post will spur others. Noticed that Bezos put some big money down on a conversation about difference. Curiously a newspaper article on Bezos was up front in the Sunday edition of the Detroit Free Press.
Anybody up for a gay pride parade this weekend? Thinking of a long ride to New Haven or other points South. My bike is all dressed up and ready!