Gay Pride Parades Are About So Much More Than Tight Shorts And Motorcycles!

My partner Susan and I were driving to the San Diego Zoo yesterday afternoon and we drove through the route of the San Diego Gay Pride Parade.  We started talking about maybe changing where we sit this year and in that conversation we then decided that we couldn’t do that because we’ve been sitting in the same spot for 10 years now and that kind of makes it a tradition!  I found as we were talking that my heart was just filled with emotion, and my spirit was lifted just remembering my first Pride Parade 10 years ago.

Gay Pride Parades aren’t just about gay men stomping about in tight short shorts and dykes riding their motorcycles in leather pants and no tops! Not that there’s anything wrong with either one of those things, and the motorcycles are certainly worth looking at, but, it’s really about so much more.

10 years ago, I was 50 years old. My life had been spent in hiding and had been filled with so many lies and so much hurt and anger, I never imagined there was a way out. More specifically, I never dreamed there was a way for me to come out.

But – there I was – this 50 year-old Lesbian, sitting on the corner of 6th and University in San Diego waiting to see my first-ever Pride Parade.  I was a stranger in a strange land – and yet I felt more at home on that street corner than I had ever felt in my home-town.

My move to San Diego and to Susan had been filled with doubts and fear and oddly,  this great sense of relief that I was finally away from most of my family who had then, and still have now, no tolerance for “the gays.” It goes against what they believe are their fine Christian values.  I had started a job here in San Diego at the La Jolla Playhouse that had placed me exactly where I needed to be to understand that being gay was not the end of the world – It was in fact the beginning of my life.  Friends like Candie, Thom, Terry, Jenny, Gigi – all openly gay – all living this life I had only dreamed of, showed me on a daily basis how life is just life and who you love and can never, ever be questioned or regulated.

Susan insisted that seeing the Gay Pride Parade would change my life and I remember thinking – really? A parade is going to change my life?   When the “Dykes on Bikes” came roaring up the street to lead-off the Parade – my small-town eyes flew wide open. I’d never seen anything like this in my 50 years, ever…

The Parade was filled with floats and bands and organizations walking the walk of gay pride openly, without fear.  Policeman, Firefighters, churches all showing pride and banners for tolerance and acceptance.  It was nothing I had ever seen or heard in my life.  I clapped, I laughed, I cried.  At the end of the Parade there is this huge rainbow flag that people put over their heads and walk under it down 6th avenue to Balboa Park.  The flag must cover a full city block. It was an amazing sight to see.  Susan insisted I get under this flag, grab hold of it and walk the remaining blocks to the Park. I whined – it was hot – I was tired – blah, blah, blah – Susan insisted.  The moment my hand touched that flag I started to cry, and I cried the entire way to the Park.  I cried for the 50 years that I lied about who I was, I cried for the freedom I was now feeling, I cried for the peace that had entered my heart, I cried for finally, finally understanding and accepting this person I had become, I cried and cried and cried.

Every year we go and sit in our spot on the corner of 6th and University. Our Granddaughter usually joins us along with our close friends, and neighbors.  We yell and run into the street and hug our friends who are marching with the military folks, and our friends who are walking with their church.  I laugh, and sing, and enjoy these few hours of peace and sweetness. At the end when that big rainbow flag comes down the street filled with people whose hands are holding on to that flag with tears running down their faces – I cry right along with them…  Susan was right; The Gay Pride Parade had changed my life.

Gay Pride Parades are about so much more than tight shorts and motorcycles…

About barbaraweicksel

My home is San Diego, CA - a most beautiful city. Mountains to the East, Pacific Ocean to the West, and the desert in between the mountains and the ocean. Beauty everywhere, but... The world is full of beauty, and I do love to travel. what I hope to share on these pages are my thoughts and some photos of the world as I see and experience it. I'd be happy to have you along on the journey - and then join me while I'm at home...
This entry was posted in 2012, beliefs, California, Change, elections, evangelical christians, faith, family, friends, gay, Gay Marriage, Gay Rights, Grandchildren, home, homophobia, Lesbian, life, love, Military, News, San Diego, Women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Gay Pride Parades Are About So Much More Than Tight Shorts And Motorcycles!

  1. Actorealtor says:

    I, too, initially had an aversion to pride parades. Although I was definitely out and clubbing, and doing all of the things a wild, mischevious young Gay boy did. I just had this image of silly boys and girls running around chanting “I’m Gay”, and the world, collectively, saying “We know, sit down.”
    But there is something so powerful about so many people gathering, all just wanting to be a part of this world, and not a second-class citizen. It IS very emotional.
    When you look through the dancing and drinking, and see it as a celebration of solidarity as we refuse, more and more, to not be pushed to the side.,…

    • barbaraweicksel says:

      Actorealtor – …”But there is something so powerful about so many people gathering, all just wanting to be a part of this world, and not a second-class citizen. It IS very emotional.” I love this statement of yours. Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment.

  2. thom waldman says:

    there is a picture of Dave and me leading the gay pride parade back in the day when no one else wanted to put themselves out there… we donned our leather harnesses and led the way… as we grew so did the community and the parade… it’s amazing how things have changed for us over these past 30+ years… i love you!

    • barbaraweicksel says:

      My sweet Thom – You will never know the place you hold in my heart for your kindness, your patience, and your love… The leather harnesses was a little more than I needed to know – still.. I love you so much.. ♥

  3. Kate Flannery says:

    I think my first parade was either 9 or 10 years ago – in NYC. I didn’t even realize it was going on, but we were down in the Village with the kids, and Sara’s boyfriend at the time, and then we saw it – and I just wanted to be there all day. Such a celebration of life…and of joy and of community. And after enduring so much discrimination and marginalization, this outpouring of pride and being authentic to oneself…I found it insipirational then and now.

  4. This was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Reading about you crying brought tears to my eyes, because I know what it is to feel that freedom – like something inside you just burst open and you are finally and completely alive. What a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

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