It's June, and that means it's time for the Big Kahunas of Pride season: New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Millions of LGBTQs and friends/families/supporters, plus the usual assortment of gawkers and religious freaks, will pour into the streets for parades and celebrations.
This is the time of year when I wish my favorite fantasy would come to life. What if, for one day only, everyone on Earth who'd ever slept with a same-sex partner, or wished they had, turned purple? Just for a day, we'd get to see what is really going on for most of the world out there.
How many people would keep their original skin tone? I'm guessing that would be a really low, low number. And I think if "Purple Day" could happen, it would be a very short step to the end of discrimination as we know it. Like that old Buddhist mind exercise -- don't think of the purple elephant in the living room -- that's all you're going to think about once you've been told not to.
And that's how it would be as the world prepared for "Purple Day." People would fantasize about gay sex like crazy, and almost nobody would make it through the day unscathed by at least a tint of lavender. Discrimination would almost instantly be rendered meaningless and ridiculous when people looked around them and saw just about everyone they knew was at least a little bit purple.
Imagine all those purple anti-gay legislators and preachers! What would Congress look like? What if all those housewives who watch daytime TV and have imagined sleeping with Ellen (Ellen is such a lucky girl!) just turned a light shade of lavender for the day? Guys who couldn't stop thinking about Adam Levine would go to the purple side. If you lined up the 60 percent of residents of North Carolina who voted against our relationships last year, what would they look like?
I've been around long enough to remember the stress queers felt in San Francisco, returning to work the Monday morning after a bright, sunny Parade Day. How, exactly, would you explain your sunburn to office mates without letting it out of the bag what you had done with your weekend?
Those were the days of the iron-clad closet. Nobody freely admitted to being gay, under penalty of destruction. We went to enormous lengths to hide: My friends and I took part in a common ritual we called "de-dyking" our apartments, for when straight family and friends came to visit. Down came the Sinister Wisdom and Amelia Earhart posters; up went bucolic meadow scenes. Sapphic poetry vanished from the bookshelves, and absolutely no Alix Dobkin was to be found anywhere near the record player.
The lines were clearly drawn. There were straight people -- they could be dangerous, and often were -- and the rest of us queers hid out. We had our parallel and secret ways, and we worked hard to make sure nobody who could ruin our lives ever found out.
It is very different today; people who are not celebrities are out of the closet everywhere. For older people, you can only be a cool straight person if you have at least a couple of gay friends. For many younger people, it's a barely noticed distinction.
But discrimination and danger are still there. We can't get married in four out of five states. There's little general civil rights protection in a majority of states. People lose their jobs for being gay, and get thrown out of their families. People are still murdered for belonging to any part of the LGBTQ alphabet soup.
Our president supports same-sex marriage but won't sign an executive order to ban discrimination in employment by federal contractors. Congress just threw us under the bus, cutting binational same-sex couples out of the immigration bill. A teacher in Ohio was fired for being gay. A high school student in Florida is being prosecuted as a sex offender because had a relationship with a younger girl from her basketball team. A young man in Montana faces prison for sleeping with his boyfriend; he was 17 and the boyfriend was 16 at the time. A judge in Texas told a woman in a custody battle that she can't live with her current girlfriend and keep her children. A man in Missouri was cuffed and dragged from his husband's hospital bedside by police.
But what if there was that one day -- just one day! -- when everyone on Earth who had had a homosexual encounter, or wished they had, or dreamed about it, turned purple? I figure that would cover at least 70 to 90 percent of the people out there. Heck, it could be even higher.
Unfortunately, it's never going to happen in this world, not even if you believe in unicorns. So for now, we'll gather for these very vivid, public displays of pride and affection, and march in the streets to commemorate our entry into the modern civil rights era. But never forget: If truth be told, most people on Earth would be awash in a sea of purple.