After our daily visit yesterday to the offices of FranceTelecom in pursuit of the chimera of television reception, Susie and I decided to walk home through the ancient streets of what is now tourist central, past l'eglise St Severin, rather than along Boulevard St. Germain. We stopped at a cafe for a coffee, watching two men carefully edge their car into a parking space just barely long enough to contain it. The sky was blue, with puffy white clouds, and everyone in Paris seemed to be out on the streets. I noticed an unusual number of them walking toward Place Maubert, and it occurred to me maybe a "manifestation" was in the offing. But when we finally wandered up rue Lagrange [named after the mathematician, of course] to the Place, we discovered an enormous gathering of people getting ready to launch a Gay Pride parade. Yesterday, it seems, was Gay Pride day in France. As we edged to the curb to watch, the parade set off on its long route to Place de la Bastille. We watched for almost an hour as the most heterogeneous collection of people imaginable streamed by. Periodically, a huge flat bed truck would pass, gaily decked out, with music booming from speakers so loud I could feel it in my teeth. Tall young men on high heels dessed in wedding gowns garnered the most attention, of course, but I was more moved by the occasional middle-aged man or woman walking by, pretty clearly there in solidarity with a son or daughter. Tears came to my eyes as I thought of my son, Tobias, and his long struggle to win for himself and all the other LGBT folks in America rights they should long ago have had. Finally, we went back to our apartment, but hours later, the sounds of the parade passing through Place Maubert still could be heard. There must surely have been hundreds of thousands of marchers in all.
Today, I read that Francois Hollande, the new socialst President of France, has promised that within a year gay marriage and adoption will be legal in France. In France, of course, these matters are decided only at the national level, since there is nothing resembling the tradition of states' rights that makes America's legal landscape so complex. Francois Mitterand, the last socialist President, ended the practice of capital punishment. Don't try to tell me that the Socialist Party victory makes no difference! The absence of a vibrant, viable socialist party in America is only one of many ways in which we have failed to evolve. The Greatest Nation On Earth indeed.