Closely following the wake of gay and lesbian groups being banned from marching in the New York City and Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade, gays have faced another setback: they are not allowed to participate in Brunson, Ohio’s annual celebration of National Welding Month.
“Everyone knows that April is National Welding Month, and here in Brunson, Ohio, this is a celebratory event. It is also a family affair,” Hester Oleger, chair organizer for the National Welding Month festivities, stated. “And here in Brunson, we have traditional values.”
Activities at the National Welding Month Celebration include the opportunity to try your hand at welding (it’s B.Y.O.W.G. – Bring Your Own Welding Gear), an aggressive game of musical chairs, as well as a contest original to Brunson: The Miss Weldie Beauty Pageant, where young Brunson gals strut around in flame proof skull caps with safety shields and fire resistant aprons, and are voted who is the most attractive. (The winner receives a pair of safety goggles.) While munching on refreshments of graham crackers and sipping apple juice, guests will enjoy music performed by a harmonica quartet called “Harmonicas in Harmony.” Lastly, a riveting sock puppet show educates party goers on the history of welding. (Socks catching on fire is not uncommon during the welding reenactment and has been rumored to be the main reason people attend the celebration in the first place.)
Traditionally, the turnout to Brunson’s National Welding Day extravaganza is minimal. While the gay population isn’t known for attending this celebration for welding, Oleger and others want to be on the offensive.
“We wanted to make a public statement that just like the St. Patty’s Day Parade – if you’re openly gay – don’t come. This is a day to celebrate welding, not draw attention to being gay. You can be quietly gay – just not loud about it,” said Oleger.
And what exactly is quietly gay?
“You know, just like, walk far away from each other … or don’t act like you love each other or anything. And God forbid! Don’t bring your children! We don’t want their children here having fun! Again, we’re about traditional family values.”
As expected, the National Welding Month celebration’s ban on openly gay couples has caused outrage.
“Everyone should be invited to everything,” said Jessica Bright, chief spokeswoman for Everyone Is Invited Union, an offshoot of the American Civil Liberties Union. “It’s outrageous that openly gay couples can not participate in Brunson’s celebration of welding. Completely unacceptable! They miss out on the Weldie Beauty Pageant! And sock puppet show! All because they’re gay?”
Bright is working toward a civil lawsuit – after she has finished organizing protests and picket lines outside of the Brunson’s American Legion Building, where the welding celebration will be held.
When gay couples were interviewed about the ban on their attending Brunson’s welding festivities, the response was unanimous.
“Like I would ever want go to that,” Mark Holdsburg said when interviewed, “a welding contest? Are they for real?”
“Welding? Can it get any more boring?” said his partner, Adam London, “please. Thank you for banning us!”
– Underground Writer Reporting