It’s not just about the parade: Why pride still matters

It’s not just about the parade: Why pride still matters

I’ve been asked why it is that “you gays” need a parade. Why it is we feel the need to “prance around” and celebrate something that is an abomination in the eyes of God.

I’m told that there isn’t a “Straight Pride Parade” for straight people to profess their pride in being straight – why on earth do I need a parade to profess my sin of gayness?

I’m told it’s just another excuse for gays and lesbians to get drunk and stoned and act like idiots. You know, like the straight people do on St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras, and any given day during the NFL and college football season.

I’m told there are near naked men in and at this parade and why would we subject little children to such debauchery? You know, like the guitar man in his underwear in Times Square that millions of children have seen, or the speedos and bikinis at any beach where the children are building sand castles.

I’ve been told a whole lot of things by people who like to judge and ridicule and condemn my soul to hell.

I can’t speak for every LGBTQ person in the world, but — since you asked me about the Pride Parade — I can tell you why it matters so much to me.

This world we live in is not always easy. It’s not always filled with love and hope and peace. More often than not, it’s filled with hate and war and people who love to judge.

We are judged by what we wear, where we live, what we drive, the color of our skin, the tone of our voice, the car we drive, and, yes… who we love.

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The debate on whether one is born gay or simply a sinner choosing to act on these horrific impulses will go on as long as time exists. What has to be remembered is, at the core of the debate is a human being simply trying to live their life the best way they know how.

I don’t know if I was born a lesbian or not. I only know that at a very young age I felt very uncomfortable in the dresses my mother insisted I wear. I hated skirts and all things frilly. I was a “tom-boy” – big-time!

When I grew up in the 1950’s , small-town America was not the small-town America of 2014. I’m sure these little towns still exist, but… children are not growing up with Mighty Mouse, Bonanza and I Love Lucy. They are growing up with iPads, Face Time and You Tube.

Children today have smart phones, and with that they have the entire world in their hands.

My world in the 50’s and 60’s was limited to family and church and school.

I knew I was different, but I also knew I should not be different. When I was in High School my mother found a note that was written to me by a girl. She was my first love, but my mother was having none of this nonsense.


This just wasn’t done – this wasn’t normal, and she would not put up with it. And that was that.

The thing is, that wasn’t that. It wasn’t a phase I would grow out of, and it wasn’t because of anything my parents did or didn’t do. I wasn’t abused in any way — I was just gay. And that was that…

Again, that wasn’t that.

I got married. I lived a life that was a lie. I hurt people. I lied to people. I lied to myself. And for well over 20 years I played the game. Finally, I met a woman who made me feel alive and loved and cherished and I realized I could lose her if I didn’t come out.

And that — finally – was that.

I went to my first Pride Parade when I was 50. The San Diego Pride Parade in July of 2002. I had just moved in with Susan and we were trying really hard to find our way. I hadn’t come out to my family. I was still married and my life was a mess.

But, I was with her, and I was determined.

When that 200 foot gay flag came around the corner of University Avenue, Susan gently pushed me out onto the street and told me to go and grab it and walk under it.

When my hand touched that flag the tears started to roll down my face. Susan joined me and we walked under that flag the rest of the Parade route. Tears were mixed with smiles and hugs and a feeling of freedom that I had never known in my 50 years of life.

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It changed me – that big flag – that Pride Parade – it changed my life.

The Parade to me is about love and tolerance and understanding. Understanding that we are all different, and yet we are all the same.

We, all of us, simply want love and peace in our lives. Who are we to judge what or who brings another person happiness and peace in their lives?

Who are we to say: “NO, you cannot be married.” “NO, you cannot adopt children.” “NO, you cannot work here.”

The Parade is about YES: “YES, love exists here.” “YES, tolerance abides here.” “YES, you are welcome here.” “YES, we understand. You are not alone.”

Come walk under the flag with me – come and understand – come and feel the love. Come with me, and I promise you, if you are willing, any hatred, any intolerance, any judgments you may hold will be left in the fabric of the flag over your head.

It’s not just about the Parade. Pride still matters…

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