I’ve been asked numerous times why it is that “you gay people” need a parade. One person suspected that it was merely a chance for me to “prance around in your underwear.” Let me be clear – I have never pranced around in my underwear in public – ever.
My first Pride Parade changed my life. It was the first time in my then 50 years that I allowed myself to acknowledge in public that I was gay. When I saw that 300 ft flag and my sweet Susan insisted that I go and grab hold of it – It was the first time I openly wept and accepted who I was, and it was the first time ever that I understood I was not alone.
For some of us Pride is a life-changing, life-affirming event that changes how we look at the world from that moment on. There are those that like to focus on the drinking and partying but if you were to ask my friends – they will tell you that Pride is really about – Pride.
For as long as I can remember being gay in a straight world has been a struggle. Prejudice, ignorance and intolerance tend to make the environment in which we live unhealthy and unsafe. We were dragged behind trucks, beaten unmercifully, spat upon, and killed for nothing more than having the courage to live our lives as who we are.
Pride was the one time it felt safe to stand on the street and be your gay self. It was a day to refuel and brace yourself for the coming year – for the struggles and battles that were looming. It was a day of celebration – our day of jubilee.
Pride has a whole new meaning this year. There is less hiding and more celebrating as laws change along with the hearts and minds of the American people.
I won’t be in San Diego this year when that 300 ft. flag comes down Sixth Avenue. I won’t be able to walk out onto the street and grab hold of that flag that changed my life 11 years ago, and gather strength and courage from the thousands who are walking under and around this beautiful flag.
I may not be there in person – but my heart will be under that flag and with all of you as we celebrate the wonderfulness of Pride.