Over the Rainbow Flag

The festivals in New York and Los Angeles get more attention but shouldn’t the Knoxville Pride Fest be the preeminent event of its type in the nation? After all, which other city has its parade on an actual Gay Street?

Similar festivities occur all across the country. I remember seeing people headed to a pride festival in Anchorage when I visited there in June, 2001. Why this time of year? There’s a very good chance it’s because Judy Garland died on my birthday. Well, she didn’t die because it was my birthday, that’s just a coincidence. My eighth birthday party was winding down when my family heard the news report that the star of “The Wizard of Oz” had died. At that age, even straight kids love “The Wizard of Oz.” Back in those days, the movie could only be seen once a year on television. There were no VCRs or DVDs.

A few days later, on the day of Judy’s funeral, some fans were reportedly mourning her at a bar on Christopher Street. The police raided the place and “a rampage” followed. The disturbances lasted several nights and are now commemorated annually with events such as LA Pride presented by Christopher Street West in West Hollywood.

The staff at the Frank E. Campbell funeral home needed every last minute to prepare for the viewing of Judy’s body. I just read an amazing account of the extraordinary measures that had to be taken to make her remains presentable. Although Judy died in London, she is buried in Westchester County, New York. According to Google, her grave is 6.1 miles from my childhood home. No, I haven’t stopped by yet.

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