Identity / Life

Why Pride?

I write this the day after the pride festival in our town, still reveling in the glory of the weather, the people, and most of all of course, the feeling that comes with LGBT Pride celebrations everywhere. I realized today that this was my twentieth year celebrating in June as an out lesbian. I am now a 35 year-old mother of three and now both religiously and legally married to my wife as of 11 years ago and eight months ago respectively. I am doing fine (knock wood) with my career, family, and community, so why then would Pride be so very necessary for me even still?

I grew up in the NY metro area and came out at the age of 15. My own children can say that they started attending NYC Pride in utero, but my teenage start wasn’t so bad either. What I found at Pride was a unique sister- and brotherhood that extended to strangers who immediately became friends, at least for the day. For teenage me, this was a revelation in no uncertain terms. I have watched Pride, marched in Pride, and now I can say that I have helped to organize Pride. In these twenty years, much has changed about the way that the LGBT community is perceived, even as there are still many challenges that await us. But what is it about the gathering together of hundreds or thousands of like-minded people that matters?

The joy of Pride is evident even in the largest of gatherings. When the crowd on Christopher Street last year found out that my daughter was celebrating her third birthday that very day, a rousing (and harmonious!) chorus of “Happy Birthday” swelled to include both sides of the street that were still awaiting the dykes on bikes. How many three year-olds can say that they have been serenaded so delightfully by a group of people so incredibly proud, so incredibly validated to simply be standing (sweating) there together, that they spontaneously burst into song on a city street?

I believe that despite our newfound marriage equality that is rapidly barreling its way across the land, we fight hard every day, even still, choosing to disclose our lives and make ourselves vulnerable each time we meet someone new or encounter a new situation. So many of us are still threatened by violence and hate (overt and covert) on a daily basis. Even those of us who do not necessarily feel the outside pressure of negativity still feel the internalized pain of homophobia in ourselves, telling ourselves that we are not worthy, not beautiful, not good enough, every day.

Pride is just as important for me today as it was in 1995. Actually, it has grown in importance for me because when I became a parent, I saw the essential importance of positivity and opportunity for youth. I feel a sense of loving obligation toward our LGBT youth, and chaperoning a queer youth dance this past week was an absolute joy for me. I am filled with (yes) pride for “our” kids, and watching them delight in the support of their community is a gift. Our pride celebration is our gift to these youth especially, to show them that they are each beautiful and worthy and that their lives are each of infinite value to us.

When you come to Pride, you are telling me that I am valuable and that my life is important. You are telling me that I am just like you, just as worthy of living my fullest life. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the families who brought around one thousand children to our kids’ zone and stage, and for the thousands more who attended our main stage. May Pride continue into the future, ever evolving but always remembering that it is telling us, each of us, that we are not less than. It tells us that we are deserving of parties, celebration, and rainbow-themed giveaways. More than that, though, it tells us that we are worth it. Our lives, each individually and together as a community, matter. We matter. And that is enough for me to keep going for another year.

Happy Pride 2014, everyone! Enjoy!

FEATURED PHOTO CREDIT: CJ PRINCE

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  1. Pingback: Why Pride : A Gurlz Guide

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