I took my son to watch the Belfast Pride parade today.
Mummy was covering the event as part of her job as a journalist, so it seemed to make sense for us all to meet up in the city.
I’ve previously taken my boy to see a St Patrick’s Day parade and a July 12 march.
He seems to have a genuine interest in any event with a sense of pageantry.
While he doesn’t understand the issues, I want him to absorb the ethos that there are causes or events that people feel so strongly about that they are prepared to go onto the streets.
The sun shone and we had a great time. He loves rainbows and the overall spectacle, a caravan of love, held him fixed.
As the floats snaked their way through the city the largest cheers were reserved for a group of uniformed police officers, some from the PSNI, who were taking part.
Their satisfied smiles as the volume of the crowd grew were heartening.
The overall atmosphere was welcoming and I could see no street drinking. A couple of times I was accidentally jostled by members of the crowd but they always met me with a smiling apology afterwards.
At no moment did I feel that it was not a safe or appropriate event to bring my son to.
The energy of the parade was driven by young people. Reminding me that the next generation and the one after that have already overtaken us. Good thing too.
The only downside I could point to was the street seller behind me repeatedly yelling ‘Get yer flegs er garlands!!!’ in a Belfast accent as thick as cough syrup.
I moved my location a couple of times but he always seemed to be able to find me, positioning his wares at my feet and screaming ‘Get yer flegs er garlands!!!’ until it felt that my brain was rattling in my skull.
When I go to any public event with my son I plan an escape route. A way to get back to the car when the inevitable and usually imminent moment that my son gets bored and tired occurs.
But it didn’t happen. He insisted on me lifting him high so he could get a better view. In the end it was my poor old back which gave way before his attention did.
My son likes to ask questions. To try to understand why.
As we’re about to go home he points to a placard being carried by a young woman, brightly attired.
‘What does that sign say daddy?’
‘It says ‘Love is a human right’.’
‘What does that mean daddy?’
I think for a second, just to make sure I say the right thing.
‘It means that any person should be allowed to love any person they want.’