“Whether they are 8 or 80, a first Pride event is huge!”
As I was thinking about what Pride means to me, I thought I would ask community members about how they feel about the Pride season. I found that Pride brings up all kinds of different feelings for folks. How often do we really stop to think about it? Do our youth know that Pride started as a protest? How many people know the history of how Pride started and when?
So, as I write this article a few Pride events have already taken place and I encouraged some community members to come out and march in Sunday’s ‘March of Resilience’. For most of them, it was the first time they had ever gone to a Pride event of any kind. Others who marched may have attended Pride Parades or festivals in the past but had never actively participated in any event.
The excitement was palpable as we found our way to each other. We had been meeting on Zoom for over a year and now here we were face to face for the first time. It was so wonderful to get so many hugs from the folks I had only seen online. Lots of pictures were taken and more hugs as new folk joined us.
I don’t know the exact number of Trans and Non-binary people who showed up, but someone brought a banner and there were quite a few of us following behind it. The march went pretty quick, too quick for most of us. I don’t think people truly understand what an event like that means to our community, like being able to dress as themselves in public, yet in safety for maybe the first time, and the preparations they put into it such as pedicures and visits to the hair stylist. Some had brand new outfits to wear. The Trans masculine folks dressed in their coolest finery with fresh haircuts and traces of new beards and full beards on others. All of these things mean something so personal and almost sacred for so many of us.
I think you cis folks might understand a bit if you think back to your junior high or high school days: That first grown-up dress or first suit, deciding for the first time the clothes you want to wear, or choosing the right hairstyle. Hanging out with new friends where everyone is secretly checking each other out. Wondering if they look ok, do they think I look ok? Will I be made fun of? These are the things that always ran through my mind in the early days. That’s the excitement Trans and Non-binary folks feel when they reach that stage of their awakening. This is the moment they have long dreamed of.
Stepping out, into the warm sun that Sunday, ready finally to show the world just who you are. When you are at the ready-set-go stage of your coming of age, so to speak, and being so proud of that, that’s the key! I think we can all relate to our first Pride events, feeling so free at last to be yourself, though for the Trans and Non-binary
community this moment has so much more meaning and goes deeper than that. We come out of our cocoons with wide eyes and smiles and happiness that runs so deep in us. We face the world not as a whole new person, but as our true person. We were always that person, but a different version. A person who will face the world from a very different perspective than they did a day, a week, or even a month ago perhaps.
This is what Pride is for and this is truly what Pride means to so many. As I have often forgotten, it is also for the new kids on the block. Whether they are 8 or 80, a first Pride event is huge. I loved seeing the beaming smiles and almost a giddiness in those that gathered that day. Here we go, marching down the streets of Hillcrest, waving to spectators, who waved back; feeling totally safe for at least this moment and thereby affirming that this indeed was our place, our family, and our community. There were Trans flags and Pride flags and Non-binary flags. People wore pronoun buttons and Drag Queens marched in all their glory. If only everyday could be like this.
The San Diego cis community is gradually learning to be inclusive. The Trans and Non-binary communities are as much a part of the Rainbow as everyone else and this community has gay and lesbian and straight folks. This community contributes in more ways than we know. They are strong, vibrant, resilient, and deserving of all the respect we give everyone else. As we move toward the coming year and we are all stepping out into the world again, please dear cis folks, remember that we are here; we are your siblings. Remember we are part of and participate in the greater LGBTQ+ community. It is no longer just Gay Pride, it’s LGBTQ+ Pride, and we should be ever cognizant of that distinction. Pride means being yourself in all your glory no matter what your identity is; no matter how you look or how you love. I hope everyone had a wonderful Pride.