Some years ago, my adult child gave me a pair of rainbow unicorn socks.
They’re really nice, comfy socks, but in a complicated way. They are quite literally comfy – thin and stretchy, made of a high quality fabric. More than that, the rainbows and the unicorns are for me an assertion of comfort in queerness, and in particular comfort in and embrace of the queerness of my adult child.
I will never forget the power of my first Pride parade, the exuberance of the simple creation of a safe queer space in a world that still lacks them, that takes non-queerness (in its many points on the non-LGBTQ spectrum) as the norm. There were a shitload of rainbows at that Pride parade. Rainbows mean that to me.
In my newly remodeled career, I speak a lot in public, and I still get a little bit nervous, and I nearly always wear rainbow unicorn socks. People often notice them, comment on them (they’re rainbow unicorns socks!) and I tell them Nora gave them to me. The socks are a reminder of what’s important to me, bestowing a weird goofy confidence at what is often a nervous moment. I’m usually speaking about water policy, so I’m not sure why or how this matters, but it does. A lot. As many introverts do, I put on a mask when I’m on stage, and the socks remind me of who I am.
On this particular Sunday, I know that my rainbow unicorn socks (I now have more than one pair, it’s become an increasingly challenging family tradition for my botmaking artist offspring Nora Reed to find new and different ones) have limited utility. The hate they (I am referring with this pronoun to Nora Reed, the non-gendered pronoun still awkward for me but important) has endured can’t be stopped with my rainbow unicorn socks, and we are reminded on this particular Sunday that many endure much in a world that is still hateful toward those who are different.
The socks are simply this, my little way of carrying the power of that first Pride parade with me and the love shared by a father and his goofy queer child.