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


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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