Collecting Beads and Getting Teary, Thoughts on My First Pride Parade

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I can' t believe it's already the middle of June. That means my softball season is in full swing, the grill gets a regular workout, I recently got another year older [heavy sigh], no more NHL hockey (unless it's on my PS3) until October, my 20th high school reunion is a week and a half away, fresh garden tomatoes are just around the corner, and Pride month is halfway over. You know it's Pride month, right? And this year's Pride marks the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. It's also the first year I've attended a Pride Parade.

Now it used to be that Pride would come and go, and I never even noticed. I know, I know, I'm such a bad gay. I confessed last year at Pride time, that I never really saw the importance of attending Pride, and that I never had a real desire to go. But after much urging through both comments and emails, I decided that I should listen to everyone and go at least one time. Oh, and not be determined that I would hate it. So, a year ago June, I found out when the closest large city was going to be celebrating Pride this year, and I wrote it on the calendar. June 13th, 2009 became my unbreakable date with a Pride Parade.

After having now been to my first Pride Parade, all I can say is, it was...well, pretty cool. We clapped and cheered for every group as they marched or floated by. We had candy, and beads, and condoms, and packets of lube thrown and/or handed to us. We narrowly dodged the spray from the go go boys' super soakers. We commented to each other in amazement as the drag queens marched by in ungodly tall stiletto heels. Seriously, how can anyone walk in those things. And for that far. They are better women than I am. We laughed at the few protesters who thought they could ruin our time. Instead, they made it better. We felt the vibration of the engines rumble through us as the dykes on bikes roared on by us. It was pretty much what I had expected, based on the accounts from others of parades past.

What I had not expected was the indescribable feeling that filled me for those moments during the parade. It was belonging, and sense of community, and freedom, and openness, and joy, and pride, and love, and hope, and exhilaration, and so much more that I can't even explain. It was, as I said before, indescribable, and amazing. And that was all before PFLAG went by. I don't know why or where my reaction came from, but I got teary over PFLAG. I felt like such a goon. Later when I asked Betty Please what she thought about the parade, one of the first things she told me was that she got teary when PFLAG marched past.

I get the feeling my reaction to the parade, PFLAG included, is not uncommon for first timers. For the last several years, LeLo In NoPo has reposted a really beautiful post about her first Pride, and the importance Pride continues to have.

I saw fierce, amazing women, riding without shirts, on fast, loud motorcycles. I was in awe. I was embarrassed. I was excited. I was surrounded by people who were either just like me, or who embraced people like me. I was in a place that I felt safe. And I realized that was a very rare thing in my life. I was safe.

G and I applauded for every single marching contingent. But when PFLAG approached, G got misty. There were mothers, and fathers, and brothers and sisters, all marching in support of their gay family members. "I Love My Gay Son" was a sign carried by a mother walking hand in hand with her son. I was speechless.
-read full post Happy Pride to you and you and you

After the parade, we walked over to the festival. That's when my expectations were met. Too many sweaty, nearly-naked people, wandering around without purpose in too small a space, with the sun screaming down on us with no shade or escape routes in sight. Not my idea of fun. In most circumstances, I don't mind if people are nearly naked. But in a shoulder to shoulder, packed in like sardines situation, having sweaty nearly naked people brush against me has got to be one of the circles of hell. I just can not carry enough purell with me to make that situation enjoyable. But, it was an experience. And just to be clear, I'm not trying to bad mouth the festival, I'm sure most people enjoyed the festival and that it was lovely. I know BP enjoyed it. I'm just not good with crowds and I get really grouchy, and really OCD.

So, will this be my first and last parade? No. We'll definitely be going to other parades. As for the festivals that follow...maybe we'll go do something else for a while until it's not so crazy with people. I know BP would enjoy going to the festival part again.

Tangent- Oh, you know something that did surprise me? All the people with their dogs. I couldn't believe how many dogs there were there. I guess it shouldn't be surprising. Hell, if you're single, is there a better way to make yourself approachable with conversation ice-breaker guarantee, than to have a dog with you? It's quite genius really. Anyway.../Tangent

What about you? Did you go to Pride this year? Do you go every year? Do you still get the same feeling as the first time you went?

What have other LGBT bloggers written about Pride? Check out a few;

 

Zoe is a BlogHer Contributing Editor (Life-GLBT)

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