Over the Rainbow or…“Over” the Rainbow? by Marie Cartier

What are the dreams that we dare to dream today?

I was sitting with a young queer student from my Gender Women’s Studies class at the gay coffee shop in Long Beach, California. I offer this option to my students—meet in

Long Beach on Friday of finals week if it helps — realize that I teach in Northridge, so on a Friday afternoon this means perhaps a 2 hour drive to do this. But many students do it—this one student included. It happened that he made this trek on the first day of Gay Pride activities in Long Beach—the Dyke March was that night.

of Gay Pride activities in Long Beach—the Dyke March, marie Cartier, feminism and religion, stonewall
Marie with sister of perpetual indulgence—tippy tappy toes

I asked if he was going to any Gay Pride events while he was in Long Beach—perhaps even attending the Dyke March. He said, “I’m over Pride.” It felt like a game changing statement for a young queer activist.  I asked, “Why?” He said, “Why do I want to go somewhere and have someone try to sell me sheets or …a condo ….or buy pillows…it’s just about money, Professor. It’s got nothing to do with… what it was supposed to be about…?

I said, “Stonewall.”

“Whatever. Gay Pride is not about that. I went to one Pride in Los Angeles. It’s not for me. I don’t relate to it.” He smiled, “I’m sorry. “

He is a 20 something Mexican American majoring in Queer Studies in an urban area, partnered with another young Mexican American male—an aspiring actor. He is also a teacher in a public school –teaching creative writing and self defined as “over Pride.”

Gay civil rights celebrations began in June to commemorate the first televised event—the Stonewall Inn rebellion in June 1969, the day Judy Garland died. Some say this was the inciting event. That to raid the gay bar –the Stonewall Inn, one of the few places gays could dance together—the day Judy died was the “Oh, no you don’t!” tipping point. Whether or not that is the case, this rebellion–the first ever televised (not the first ever rebellion)—happened 46 years ago.

of Gay Pride activities in Long Beach—the Dyke March, gay pride, gay prom, marie cartierA day after Long Beach Pride I was at the same coffee shop sitting with a totally different age group—women belonging to Forty Plus. Since the group started in the late 1980s many of them are well over 60, but there is a strong membership base in their 50s.

“Did you go to Pride?” I asked a woman at the table, making conversation.

“Yeah, I volunteered,” she sighed. “I’d never pay to get in.”

“Really?” I have volunteered but also often pay to get in…as I always go to the Pride Festival full of well, pride, and wearing rainbows. “I love Pride. The atmosphere. The people watching.”

She shook her head. “It’s all rainbows, rainbows, rainbows. Can’t they sell a plain T-shirt that says ‘Gay Pride?’ The rainbow is on everything. This day-glo rainbow. It means nothing. I’ll tell you one thing—I’m over the rainbow. Really, over it.”

Judy Garland’s anthem from The Wizard of Oz—“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” includes lyrics that ask us if “the dreams that we dare to dream really do come true…somewhere over the rainbow.”

What does it mean then to be “over the rainbow,” as in done with it? Granted when we go to Pride we see a lot of rainbows—on everything from sex toys, T-shirts, key rings, flashlights, belt buckles…to dog beds. But we don’t see a lot of history, of how the rainbow comes to be our symbol or what we can do with our gay pride besides spend money on rainbow colored items (and alcohol).

of Gay Pride activities in Long Beach—the Dyke March Are we  really somewhere over the rainbow where are dreams come true… if we do not have marriage equality, LGBT education nationwide in public schools, or gay elder housing (the latter two just getting started in California). Most gay elders fear that their relationships will not be honored in older care facilities so they try to stay at home, rather than receive care somewhere that strips them of their relationship. And gay youth are the nation’s highest suicide risk.

For the pre-Stonewall Judy Garland loving crowd the dream was sometimes as simple as having a drink in a bar with other gay people and not being afraid of a police raid, or being able to fall in love with someone and learn their real name, or being able to tell someone close to you—maybe even a family member—that you were gay and having them still accept you. Or perhaps it was just as simple as hoping that the bar you went to would not close.

What are the dreams that we dare to dream today? For me the rainbow means gay pride whether or not connected to a festival, it means protests, and, since I came out in 1979—ten years after Stonewall, it means a 30-plus year commitment to fighting for things like gay marriage, an end to hate speech, and a commitment to gay rights. Every year during June I celebrate all the steps along the way for that year.

Is it really time to be over the rainbow, as in done with it? Yes– the rainbow is on those T-shirts and earrings…fingerless gloves, pantyhose and tutus. But our history/herstory will tell us for one thing that that costuming is important to us. While it is true that a butch woman probably metered out the first punch at Stonewall…it was quickly followed by street-drag-queen culture, and those street youth were in the drag that they could afford, and this group created a televised revolution! Costuming within our community—the tutus and boas and gloves and wigs—does have a distinguished and honored history.

collette): photo by: angela brinskele, long beach pride, Marie Cartier
Marie and Collette, photo by Angela Brinskele

For pre-Stonewall people, a ‘friend of Dorothy’ was code name for a gay person. A few years ago the airline Jet Blue ran an ad that said it would help carry the Friends of Dorothy over the rainbow from one pride event to another.

Are we just a niche market now—to be ferried from one marketing opportunity to another? Or do we go over the rainbow to activate change—and not just the cha-ching of the register? What are the dreams we dare to dream?

Are you a friend of Dorothy? Are you over the rainbow or “over the rainbow?

Let me hear from you.

*All photos by author unless otherwise noted.

Marie Cartier is a teacher, poet, writer, healer, artist, and scholar. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting) from UCLA; and an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University. She is also a first degree black belt in karate, Shorin-Ryu Shi-Do-Kan Kobayashi style. Ms. Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.

8 thoughts on “Over the Rainbow or…“Over” the Rainbow? by Marie Cartier”

  1. Thanks for this post. I can appreciate how marketers and the commercialization of everything can wear someone done. Having just posted my blog yesterday (entitled “It Was a Rainbow Graduation”), your blog is a nice complement to the “underside” of the symbolism of rainbow as pride, particularly if it’s not accompanied by its many deeper meanings,


  2. Good blog. Nice connection between Long Beach’s Gay Pride events, Judy Garland’s song, and Stonewall. Brava!


  3. Marie, I <3 your Spirit…and I hate to admit that, for me, LB Pride used to be Pride kick-off and then LA or SF, whichever came first..and San Diego and NY/DC and then wait til it cooled off for Palm Springs for another Pride. This year I found myself saying, 'Maybe it is exciting if you are new gay (walking with my ex and her new gay gf as she bought up anything rainbow)…or if someone is drunk enough so it seems fun…but otherwise it lost its passion to me about causes or victories as it gave way to commercialism…Banques of LB, Acct Holders of Banques of LB, Neighbors of Acct holders, ad nauseam. We used to go in droves to SF. Maybe SF is just inherently fun. Dykes on Bikes! I hope we have victories in the future to celebrate. We will rally for important issues too…until then, the enthusiasm I see is on East side LA Gay Day getting together in the park with friends…that's fun. And as for issues, there is plenty to fight for as an ally at DOR and the March. I think Pride was a party preAIDs altho I don't even know if I was there (late bloomer) and then in time, it became about support in the midst of research and memorializing…and now, again, redundantly, how many time shares does one need? Your street corner, Marie, is probably the happiest place during the LB parade as your Spirit is just fun to be around! It's too early to wax so poetic, hope it makes sense and I don't want to rain on anyone's parade…one more thing about Marie…as seriously as she can take her scholastic issues is as much timeless delight she can take in experiencing fun in to many things in diversity, art, culture, Bettie Page. Had to throw that in there. You are truly inspirational.


  4. I think the “rainbow” was that window of time between the late 40s or so (when an effective treatment for syphilis became widely available and the homophile movement started) and 1981 (when what we now know as HIV but was at that time called GRID – Gay Related Immune Deficiency but before Queer Nation and ACT UP) . We’re most certainly over the time in which “the dreams that we dare to dream really do come true” were dreams of liberation, social justice and sexual freedom. It was The move from “march and a rally” to a “parade and festival”. is what made Pride somewhat meaningless for me.


  5. Hi, Prof. Cartier! It’s Emilia from your GWS 300OL class last semester, the one who has a doggie that looks just like Collette! :) What an awesome post… I literally learn new things every time I read anything you’ve written. I mean that as a fact. I generally consider myself pretty in-the-know about lots of things related to feminism, equality, etc., but frankly, I have to ask myself WHY I DIDN’T THINK OF THAT, when I read your writings. Thanks ONCE AGAIN for opening my eyes up to things I had never even thought about. I have never looked at gay bars the same, since your class. I think about the history of things so much more now. Still, I haven’t thought too much about the history of the rainbow, Pride, etc. You’ve prompted me to want to learn more. I really still have so much more to learn. I love the fact that you’re a teacher not only in school, but literally all day/all year long. I just think that’s beyond cool of you, so thanks. It’s not something that very many teachers do, as far as I’ve seen. ;)


  6. It’s an interesting question. I have always loved rainbows, and feel very happy every time I see rainbow flags or a lesbian driving down the freeway with something rainbow on her car. As for gay freedom day parades, I loved them back in the 80s, but now really I enjoy lesbian mass events. I love any gathering that has hundreds or thousands of lesbians, and that is a form of liberation for me. Many of our bars are closing in Los Angeles; the Palms is going, the Normandy Room is gone etc. Every lesbian bar and bookstore I loved in San Francisco is gone.

    Pride parades have turned into really weird corporate entities, with corporate logos on everything. That is fine I guess, but I feel sad that we can’t be fully self supporting, and that our community –lesbians that is, seems so economically poor for the most part.

    I like to hang with women. I don’t like the atmosphere men create, don’t even like drinking with men. The irony is that I find the most congenial women only environments among mostly a racially mixed crowd of straight women. So pride to me means lesbian visibility; my face lights up every time I see butch women out and about. I loved a recent event where all the women had white hair, no make-up, just plain beautiful faces. This was at the gay and lesbian center in Los Angeles, a creation of $1,000,000 legacy from a gay man, and the 1990s stock market boom.

    Stonewall, the first televised rebellion, wow! I was in New York City the very summer of Stonewall as a kid, watching the Apollo 11 astronaut parade of all things. Little did I realize.
    I was in NYC for Stonewall 25, now it is Stonewall 44. I long for a small town that lesbians own and operate. I long for as much lesbian space as I can be in. I find gay marriage and gays in the military… shrug, assimilationist. I find marriage the very foundation of the oppression of women, so I am ambivilent about it all.

    A real revolution to me would be a women’s revolution, we take over a country or a city, and women run it all. No more men, no more work on behalf of that group that has no plans to end its war or terror or rape of women any time soon. Lesbians understand this, our spaces have a power that I find beautiful and captivating. The lesbians at Stonewall did throw the punches. I’ve been known to throw a few punches in my day at men who made the mistake of messing with me.

    The dream of lesbian revolution still lives within me. Pride parades are good, celebration is good, and we don’t ever want to give up space of massive gatherings, because it is still a very heterocentric world, where butch women are just given a lot of grief. I still get into scary situations when teenage boys think they can mess with me. I still throw a punch now and then, I still want male free everything as much as possible, I still dream of a land where Amazons rule, I go beyond freedom to wanting an Amazon nation of our own.

    Maybe I’ll only be able to find this within me, or over the rainbow.


    1. Turtle Woman – Not sure how you feel about Florida, but here’s a community that some of my friends like: http://www.resortoncb.com/ Maureen Dowd had an interested piece in the NY Times about how things are starting to move in the legislature, and she thinks it might be due to having more women in congress. More of us need to think of running for office, or at least supporting liberal women who do. Starting a country of our own could be kind of difficult – but I’d be there!!


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