..It's All About The Journey...

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JULY 13, 2011 3:31PM

..Late to the Gay Pride Parade...

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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 ~

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Comments

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It's never too late to be true to yourself. Great piece!
Christina - Thanks for reading, and thanks for the encouragement..
You are fabulous as always! Great post, Barb!!!!
Kate - Thank you, my friend..
Welcome home Sister.
Thanks Celt - it's good to be home...
Your notion of affirmation struck home loud and clear. It's one of the essential elements that has separated "straight" folks from "not straight" folks. Even as we move slowly away from the severe social mores and norms to be straight, our culture is still not quite ready to quit gawking when two lovers of the same gender hold hands or kiss in public. THAT wil be when I acknowledge that "we have arrived!"

Well written piece, Barbara!
The opinion which other people have of you is their problem, not yours; it’s better to be late than never showing up. Be yourself always, everyone else seems to be taken. Excellent piece.

Cheers,

M.C.S
I joined Open Salon to tell you how proud I am of you and how beautiful your story is. I suspect it is a far more common story than we know. You are giving all those women a voice.

I'm proud to call you a friend.

Ellen
Lovely story. And as I'm sure you know there are many people in your same situation. Just remember it's the Pride you have NOW that counts the most.
A quote from an earlier response sums up what I think is an essentially awful core to groups gathering and creating an other:
"Your notion of affirmation struck home loud and clear. It's one of the essential elements that has separated "straight" folks from "not straight" folks." This creation of otherness in those who are heterosexual does not do well to create the conducive atmosphere for one to hold hands with his or her same sex partner while walking downt the street. Also, I believe one should celebrate who one is as one will, but don't consolidate being happy with oneself to one day alone.

I do not participate in gay pride parades or the such. I just live my life, and I just happen to be gay. If people have a problem with me being gay, then they won't relate to me. As for fear of violence or speech-related abuse, I have come to realize that most people, even those who are not truly accepting of homosexuality, like to avoid (avoiding something one doesn't like is a common coping mechanism). Those, who are expressing their dislike through violence and other means, are radicals, as is common place in many areas.

Turning heterosexual people into others is not a very good way of trying to bring down the walls of otherness in homosexual people. If there is to be tolerance, acceptance, etc., then there cannot be intolerance from those who want equal rights or just the opportunity to live their lives peacefully.

Just some thoughts. As a person, I just cannot understand contradictions in speech/action in comparison to a goal.
Kitd - Thanks so much.. I understand what you’re saying - but - people will always find something to gawk at!! I wonder if any of us ever really arrive in the eyes of those sorts of people! Thanks again for reading and for the comment…

M.C.S. - I could not agree with you more. Thanks so much for reading and for the comment…

Ellen - Your comment means more to me than you can imagine.. I’m proud that you have “adopted” Susan and I and consider us part of your family… Thanks for your friendship and your encouragement and for taking the time to read and leave your comment.. You’re the best…

David - thanks so much. I so agree with you.. No matter how long it takes a person to get there, the point is we must all live the life we were meant to live and be proud of who we are.. Thanks again for reading and for the comment…

Dixrek - I’m not sure you understood what I was expressing.. I never said anything about turning heterosexuals into the “other.” This was a piece about my struggle, and my feelings on going to the Gay Pride Parade. I respect that you choose not to attend such occasions, however, you in turn must respect those of us who choose to embrace the occasion. I live my life openly as a Lesbian, not only on the day of the Gay Pride Parade, but every day… I see nothing wrong with celebrating who I am at a parade..
Thanks for sharing this. Even though I grew up in a liberal environment, I was also "late to the Gay Pride Parade." It is indeed a wonderful, beautiful thing. Welcome!
Thanks for sharing this. Even though I grew up in a liberal environment, I was also "late to the Gay Pride Parade." It is indeed a wonderful, beautiful thing. Welcome!