On July 16th I will celebrate my 14th San Diego Pride Parade. I remember my first Pride Parade in 2002 like it was yesterday.
I was 49 years old, still mostly in the big gay closet, but trying really hard to make myself understand it was okay to swing that closet door open. I had made a mess of my life, and I was finally on the way to making it not quite so messy.
I was with the woman I was meant to be with, but… One foot was still firmly ensconced in that closet. That closet of wondering how many members of my family will walk away, how many friends will I lose, how do I possibly tell my parents, how do I live my life without having to lie?
This Parade was like nothing I had ever seen, and as it was coming to an end, my sweet Susan told me I needed to go get under the big gay flag. As it came around the corner I went out onto the street and I grabbed on to that big gay flag, and my emotions just overtook me. I cried tears I didn’t even know I had. It was the turning point in my life. I’ve never looked back; and I’ve never again questioned who I am or wondered if my life had any meaning.
I go out onto the street when I see that big gay flag coming around the corner and I reach up and grab on to it every year. I cry tears of relief and happiness and joy that I had this Pride Parade to show me that my life had meaning – that I mattered – that there were people just like me who suffered and agonized with all the same fears and feelings I had.
For those of you who may wonder if Gay Pride still matters, I can tell you from personal experience – Yes, it most certainly matters.
It matters because we, as a people, matter.
It matters because there will always be those who are trying to swing that closet door open and find a safe, accepting world to step out in to.
It matters because a Father won’t claim his dead sons body from the worst mass shooting in the United States because his son is gay.
It matters because laws are made specifically to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans.
It matters because politicians still spew hate-filled rhetoric against us to garner votes.
It matters because LGBTQ kids are homeless and alone and need to know their lives matter.
It matters because some religions preach a gospel of hate and loathing.
It matters because – well because every life matters. Period.
If you are lucky enough to go to a Pride Parade and they have that big gay flag at the end – embrace it. Let it float over you and surround you with love and peace and joy in who you are and know that your life matters.
If there is no Pride Parade where you are, know in your heart of hearts that you are surrounded by a big gay flag. Know you are loved. Know that your life matters.
Every life matters.