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Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Doing my part to irritate Republicans, fundamentalists, bigots and other lower life forms.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

That's why they call is a 'pride' festival

With its long tradition of supporting Democrats, I like to think of Kansas City as an island of blue in an ocean of red. With the exception of the Ward Parkway strip of mansions, a Republican would have to flee to the 'burbs to find safety in numbers.

Not surprisingly, the LGBT community here in Kansas City plays a large part in keeping the city blue. We have two LGBT Democratic clubs and a host of other organizations that, while official nonpartisan, are definitely progressive.

Now, apparently, we also have a chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, too.

To be fair, there was a chapter that tried to form several years back. It was hampered by a lack of membership. (I'd heard through the grapevine that membership in the group numbered somewhere between three and seven.)

This weekend marked the annual pride festival. Along with the drag queens, the vendors selling drinks at exorbitant prices, and the ubiquitous free condoms and lube passed out by the free health clinic, the festival is a chance for local organizations to set up booths and let the community know about their services.

Having to set up the booth for KC PRIDE Democratic Club, I didn't have time to peruse the other booths early in the festival. But as the day wore on more and more people stopped by the booth to ask "Did you see the Log Cabin Republicans' booth?" Some were clearly upset that Kansas City had a Log Cabin chapter. Others said they felt the LCRs were being "deceptive."

One festival goer told of how the folks in the Log Cabin booth handed him a petition to sign in favor of doing away with the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. As he handed the clipboard back to the volunteer he thought to inquire: "What group are you with?" When he was told he had just signed a petition for the Log Cabin Republicans, he demanded his name be taken off the petition. "I'm not going to put my name on anything for the Republicans," he said he told them.

Later in the afternoon I took advantage of having other volunteers in the Democratic club booth to make the rounds of the festival grounds. Sure enough, on the opposite side of the festival from our booth were the Log Cabin Republicans. But you wouldn't know it from first glance. The banner across the LCR booth was emblazoned with the words "Inclusion wins" in letters at least a foot tall. Beneath those words - and down in the very bottom right corner in letters perhaps two inches tall - was the logo for the Log Cabin Republicans.

Such was the inauspicious debut of Kansas City's chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans.

Granted, the folks who stopped by our booth to complain about the Log Cabinites may not have been the most nonpartisan of observers, but judging by their reactions, the LCR's message of "working for change from within the Republican Party" didn't set well. Neither did their camouflaged logo.

I do have to give my Lob Cabin brethren credit for one thing, however. I think they helped fill our collection jar for donations. As one guy said as he pointed to our banner, dropped a $10 bill in the jar and signed up for our e-mail newsletter: "At least you all aren't ashamed about who you are."

I guess that's why they call it a "pride" festival and not a "not-too-ashamed" festival.