For years I hated the whole idea of Gay Pride! I despised that the world sees the men with the rainbow colored feather boas, and assless chaps, parading around in their fairy wings!
I want so badly for the world to see the other side of the gay world! Those of us who are every day professional types who live next door.
Well, life changed a little for me this year. I started dating a man who had a past that scared me as much as my five kids scared him. He had recently ended a 20 year career as a drag queen! After getting over that shock, and all of the judgement that I had associated with that, I was invited by him to attend Long Beach Pride. It was their 25th anniversary and he (or should I say “she”) was invited to come back and host one of the stages that she had hosted for 16 years!
Wow… my first Pride with my Drag Queen boyfriend! Whew! That’s asking a lot! Mom would be so proud! So… I packed my butchest, yet hottest t shirts and shorts, packed up the truck with a suitcase full of drag paraphernalia, several wigs, and an huge sequined gown, and we hit the road!
First to meet “her” for the first time… She was FABULOUS in every sense of the word! I watched my very masculine hairy boyfriend transform into one of the most beautiful, talented performers I have ever seen. Wow. I was proud! Even when he used me as half of his comedy material!
As I looked around I became more and more aware of why we have Pride. I slowly allowed my defenses to lower and became open to the wrong judgments I had always had. Walking hand in hand with “Victoria” I was just as comfortable as I had been years before holding my wifes hand in public. Then later that day, walking with “Scott” I was just as comfortable giving him a kiss as I was with my wife in my former life! Life is different now, and for the weekend, I was able to be different and be accepted as OK. It really hit me as I watched the parade. Seeing the HUGE spectrum of the rainbow (literally) was a profound learning in my gay education. A vendor passed, as I was watching the “Dykes on Bikes” in awe, and I purchased, and proudly wrapped my first rainbow colored feather boa around my neck!
Literally tens of thousands of gay men and women were amassed together. Hands were held in public, Couples were pushing strollers with happy, balanced kids, and if only for once a year, we were able to be ourselves in a public place! We all have our pasts. We all have our own issues and challenges, and here, in this great seaside city, we are able to tell the world that we aren’t going anywhere! In fact, our voice is getting louder and louder!!
Scott and I sat together hand in hand eating dinner. He asked for my insights and reactions of my first Pride. As I thought, just as I am now, my eyes teared up. Then I openly wept. I got it. I got the reason why Pride is SO important. For one weekend a year, I feel OK. I feel normal. I am able to leave the world behind and close out the voices of discrimination, and be myself. Loving the man that I love, in the way that I want to love him and knowing that no one is going to question me or tell me I’m wrong.
I still wish the world could focus on the HUGE spectrum of the gay world and not only see the promiscuity and wild side… but now I know why the assless chaps come out! I know what it feels like to put on that feather boa and wear it with pride. If we were able to live every day in our lives, our jobs, and our families with the same freedoms and openness, maybe it wouldn’t be “so much” on one weekend.
I see the world changing, and I know the day will come. In the meantime, I for one have decided that I can walk anywhere holding Scott’s hand. If the ignorant want to throw rocks, let them. The more of us that step out in our neighborhoods, and parks, the more they will begin to see that we are here. We aren’t going anywhere!
For now, I can say with new strength. I’m here, I’m a proud gay dad, and I’m not going anywhere… but more importantly, I’m going EVERYWHERE!! (and occasionally, I just might have a rainbow colored feather boa around my neck!) Get used to it!