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Pride on my Sixth Anniversary

06/22/2011

Saturday was the sixth anniversary of an event that eventually led – three years, a lot of therapy, and a fair amount of trauma later – to my coming out. Saturday I also attended my first Pride festival.

I wrote a blog post about my anniversary last year, probably because five years, being half a decade, seemed like an important milestone. But the coincidence of the Nashville Pride festival coming on my sixth anniversary seemed worth a mention.

I’ve been out to the general public for over three years now, and they’ve been the best years of my life, but because of calendar conflicts, I’d never been able to attend the annual Nashville Pride festival. But, this year, I did. And it was interesting. I have some thoughts about it – and, as always, some of them apply to us late bloomers.

As street festivals go, this one was only so-so. An unfortunate choice of venue – neither conducive to crowd circulation, nor very visible to Nashville’s general public – and a few other oddities, like mixed drinks for sale, but no beer. (I’m a big fan of cocktails. I even write a blog about them. But a street festival without beer? Come now!) Plus, it drizzled rain the whole time I was there.

But all this is nitpicking. The event is staged entirely by unpaid volunteers, and I’ve been involved in enough of this sort of thing to know what a ton of work it is, so I’m not throwing rocks. And the weather does its own thing. No one’s in charge of that.

Besides, for me at least, the point isn’t really about any of these details. It’s about us. There were all these gay people there! Imagine! And simply being among the crowd was more than enough reason to attend the event.

A few impressions:

We are not alone. Coming out can be a very lonely process. And living out – especially for those of us who are new at it – can feel lonely too. In a lot of places around the country – here in Tennessee for example – right-wing bigots seem to have taken over the political process, and are doing all they can to spread hate and division. A great antidote to the scary-lonely feelings this can inspire, is to get out of the house and into a festive crowd of gay people. It’s wonderful to see how amazingly ordinary, everyday, unremarkable we are as a group. We are so normal. And to see same-sex couples strolling hand-in-hand is unbelievably affirming. It may be an everyday sight in the Castro or Provincetown, but on the streets of Nashville? It makes quite an impression.

And there’s this: Nashville Mayor Karl Dean dropped by and made a short speech affirming his dedication to equality for everyone. It’s good to know that, in Nashville at least, there are political leaders on our side.

We are not all alike. I’ve written before in previous posts (here, here and here) about honoring differences within our community. Well, there was diversity aplenty on display Saturday! As I said above, many, if not most, of us are just normal people – who happen to come in all shapes sizes, ages and gender identities, of course –  but who wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. And, then there are the other folks – tons of tattoos, piercings of every type and of every imaginable body part, unbelievable hair concepts, drag queens, Radical Faeries, in town from their outpost in the Tennessee woods, dressed in amazing get-ups and on stilts and roller skates. Such a wonderful parade! And everyone relaxed and happy – despite an ongoing drizzle that never quite let up. It gives real meaning to the rainbow flag.

 We are not all men. This is an awareness I need to keep in front of me at all times. Coming out of a straight life late in the game, my inclination is to focus on men, if for no other reason than to make up for lost time. But the crowd on Saturday was at least half women. It is always good to be reminded of how many gay sisters I have, and remember that they face many of the same obstacles I do. As I’ve said before, we are all in this together. United we stand, divided we fall.

So, was this a good anniversary? Yes indeed! And the Pride festival? An okay street fair – I didn’t really want a cocktail at 2:30 in the afternoon – but a first rate experience!

I’m so glad I got out and got into the scene!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Patrick Mizelle permalink
    06/22/2011 9:06 AM

    Better late than never! I’m glad you are enjoying your new life without turning your back on the good stuff of times past. And making lemoncello out of any lemons. Thanks for the links–as a late comer to your blogs, I have catching up to do.

    • 06/22/2011 2:47 PM

      Glad you’re enjoying!

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