The gay pride parade is this Saturday here in San Diego. This Parade always fills me with so many emotions I have trouble sorting them all out.
My life before there was a Gay Pride Parade is a blur of lies and denial. It was a life filled with self-loathing and desperately trying to do what I was told was the right thing. Many lives, including my own, were left bruised and battered.
I was late coming to the Gay Pride Parade, I’ll be the first one to admit that. I was Gay, but, I most certainly was not proud. I knew from a very early age that I liked girls a whole lot more than I liked boys, but… I also was very much aware that being “queer” was not something I was supposed to aspire to. I was to get married, have babies, and live my life down the street from my parents. I was to be surrounded by my family, go to the same church my entire life, work at the same place my brother, Mother and Father worked, and be grateful for the life I was given. I wasn’t grateful, and I most certainly was not happy. It was not my wont in life to live in that small town, with a husband and children, down the street from my parents. I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t want to be with my husband. It wasn’t natural for me, it wasn’t “my” life.
I experienced my first Gay Pride Parade when I was 50 years old. I had finally gathered the courage to be with the woman I had loved for well over 20 years, and it was she who introduced me to the wonder that is a gay pride parade.
There is something very special, and very life-affirming about being surrounded by what I like to call my “peeps.” It’s a celebration of who we are, and it’s that feeling of being surrounded by people like Susan and I who struggle every day just to live the American Dream. People who simply want to be respected for who we are and not need some “scientific proof” to give us validation. The sidewalks and curbs are filled with men and women with their children openly celebrating that one day when it’s okay to wave the Gay flag and the American flag together without the fear of someone busting your head in.
When I see the gay/lesbian police, fire and military men and women proudly marching in their uniforms, I always, always burst into tears. It’s reaffirming, and it fills me with a sense of pride to be a part of this community. There are families; Mothers, Father, Grandparents walking together proud of their children and grandchildren and not afraid to voice that pride. It fills me with hope…
I was late showing up for the whole Gay Pride thing, and my admiration for the folks who had the courage to stand tall when I was cowering in my small town, overwhelms me at times.
People like my friend Thom who has never once been anyone other than who he was. A proud gay man who always believed in himself, and always was nurturing to those of us who struggled with ourselves. He has never lost hope, he never wavered in his fight and his belief that one day we would be seen as equals in a world full of inequality. I love him for that, and for his paving the way for me, and for others who will come along long after we are gone.
My friend Candie, who showed me that living as an open Lesbian was as natural as breathing. She was simply who she was. She didn’t flaunt the fact that she was a lesbian, she wasn’t in anyone’s face demanding anything special, she was simply living her life.. That was such an amazing concept to me… that one could just simply live openly as a lesbian… I love her for her patience with me, and for her showing me that a life lived honestly is the only life worth living.
I like to believe that I’m now doing my part for the gay community. I’m living openly with the love of my life, I blog about my life as a lesbian, I write to Senators and even the President when I feel that my life no longer matters to these folks. The President even answered me with a personal letter assuring me that my life, in fact, did matter… I’d like to see his letter morph into laws and equality for all of us, and to that end, I will keep on writing and working.
You will find us this Saturday on the corner of 6th and University, our granddaughter Courtney by our side. We’ll be waving and cheering and crying… We’ll be hugging our friends and making new friends. We’ll be embracing our “gayness” and celebrating this life that is so very precious to us.
If only every town everywhere would have a gay pride parade.. If only every Gay, Lesbian, Trans-gender person could feel the love and know it’s okay…. If only…
~ Peace ~