I went to Pride today and came home with a lot of mixed emotions.
Pride is always a thing that means a lot to me, but I always have questioned why it means to much to me. I usually hate parades, and Times Square on a normal weekday was enough to give me a panic attack. NYC Pride is like Times Square on New Year’s Eve–jam packed to the point where you can’t really even move. Yet every year I look forward to it and absolutely refuse to miss it. Today while there I came to the conclusion that part of the reason why Pride is so damn important to me is because I’ve been told over and over in my life that being any flavor of LGBTQ is wrong. I tried to come out to my mom when I was about 16 and she told me “not in my house”. I hate to think what would have happened to me if I didn’t just let it drop and go back into the closet (at least where my family was concerned). I’m surrounded now by people who 98% of them are part of the LGBTQ community, so I don’t have to hide that I’m attracted to other girls anymore. But I don’t always feel like I can talk about that part of me, or that I can show it.
As someone in a relationship with someone who presents as (and was born as) the opposite gender I never feel okay being all “YEAH, I’M QUEER!”. It’s hard for me to even talk to anyone about it really. So this part of me that is actually an important part of me and that I spend a lot of time thinking about just gets sectioned off and kept in this nice little box. The only time it really gets to open up is when writing stories…
And at Pride.
At Pride I can just be me. I can wear a million rainbows and I don’t have to worry about getting scoffed at if I look at another lady. I nearly cry every year at Pride because of this. Because it’s one of the few places where I feel like I can really embrace my queerness. At home my desk is surrounded by rainbows, and I wear two (rather inconspicuous) Pride bracelets all the time. Sometimes I add a third, very much more noticeable, Pride bracelet. For those times when I want to be more visible (or really, visible at all). So I’m never really “hiding”. But it’s still really nice to just be Loud and Proud with other members of my community.
The other reason I came away from Pride with mixed emotions is because, while I very much enjoyed myself and all, I didn’t enjoy it this year as much as previous years. I’d chalk it up to just getting older, but the truth is it was largely due to the way NYC had sectioned off ways to get to the parade. Once you’re on the parade route, if you get off of it, it’s damn hard to get back to it. I had to get off the route in order to go to the bathroom, but they only left two, maybe three, walkways up to the parade route and so each one was so incredibly clogged with people that walking anywhere (and then afterwards finding a suitable spot you can see from) was impossible. In years past you could walk up any street and pretty easily find a place to watch from. This year was completely different.
Because of this I wound up missing a lot of the parade itself. Once I was off the parade route I couldn’t deal with trying to get through the mass of people to find a spot again. So I didn’t get to see the Orlando tribute they did, or the Wizards of the Coast dragon, or really anything that happened after the first half hour or so. I actually wound up coming home early because I just didn’t see the point is staying if I couldn’t even see the parade. The probably did this because of the current political climate or something to do with safety, but it did really put a damper on my good time.
The road closings didn’t ruin my time enough that I won’t return next year. I most definitely will. The more I go the more I realize how important the space and time of Pride is to me and to the community as a whole. Especially with what we have in office now.