We have entered into the season of Pride, that is, the gay variety is being varietal. I can picture Dolores Park right now complete with half naked bodies frolicking in the rare sunshine of San Francisco, the hula hoopers and hippie bead wearers, the live bands, booze, and edibles being toted in a picnic basket carried by a white woman dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, and gay men dressed in speedos or simply a penis cover with a string that goes up their butts. I’m not joking. The scene is real, and I’m painting but a light picture. How do I know, you ask? Well, I’ve been there a few times. I’ve tanned three times over atop a blanket with the sun that only seemed to come out on Pride day in Dolores Park, bearing down on me. The last time I was there it was so hot I had to come out of my shirt and rock a bra—perfect for Pride fashion. I’ve enjoyed food, wine, whiskey, music, and laughter all in the midst of something of an adventure. I even tried the hula hoop situation, but it didn’t work out so well. It hit the bottom before it had a chance to swivel at the hip.
On a serious note, Pride is more than a weekend of a crazy good time. For many people, it’s about freedom to be themselves, something that isn’t to be taken for granted. Gay folks—and all those on the queer and transgender spectrum—aren’t always able to move through the world the way straight people can. There is a difference, and there is often a difference inside of those differences. For instance, a masculine gay man may be more accepted than an effeminate one, and a feminine woman, who can “pass” may be more accepted than a masculine “butch,” or “stud,” woman. It’s complex and layered, which is why come Pride weekend, everyone is jumping for joy. It’s as though breathing comes easier, but why?
I’m not sure, but here’s my story.
At different times of my life growing up, I was drawn to women, not so much girls, but women (there is a difference). Even as a child some would capture my attention, though I didn’t know what it was or understand the implication. I was simply fond of women the way that some women are fond of men. In junior high and high school, I had my share of teenage relationships with boys fully involved in the experience of being straight. Then one day, I believe I was a junior in high school, I found myself having repeated dreams about one of my female teachers. It was interesting and, so much so, that I actually shared it with her. I remember her telling me something along the lines that dreams often reveal a truth about us. Talk about homework to take away and ponder. Those moments came and went, until I was eighteen and encountered my first same-sex experience. The truth had been revealed.
I spent much time trying to pray my being gay away, yet to no avail.
Acceptance is crucial, both of self and others. I had to learn how to accept myself, which meant I had to step away from Christianity in order to create a foundation with far less judgment. My mother had called an intervention of sorts, and hell and damnation hovered overhead. There was no acceptance to be found at home save my father who loved me through time and space until he died. This is what many, if not most, gay people experience, from the family to the voice, opinion, and behavior of strangers. What’s with all the hate, people? Why can’t you be you and I be me, and they be them? Is it an ego thing, a fear thing, a phobia thing, or a you think your way is best, thing sorta like religion? There is enough air available for each of us to breathe the life we need to breathe without feeling like someone is going to jump from out of the bushes with a machete and chop us to bits, or beat us to a pulp, or…you fill in the blank. Something has to give.
Being gay isn’t an airborne virus to be caught. It isn’t the stomach flu or food poisoning. It isn’t the bite of a mosquito or the sting of a bee. It simply is, just like being straight simply is. Seems easy enough for me to understand. I mean, I don’t agree with racism, ageism, elitism, or any of the other isms, but you don’t see me mistreating these folks. Heck, there wouldn’t be too many people in the vicinity if we all got to eternally smack a racist, but I digress. Here’s the deal. Some people are gay, transgender, bisexual, queer, et al, and some aren’t. The sooner we can get on the path of allowing people to be themselves, the happier we all will be and the safer our shared world. So, Happy Pride, good people! Now get out there and put some sunscreen on those cheeks!