June is Pride month. I am doing my best this year, but I don’t have a lot of pride this year. Let’s be honest here. The last two years I have gotten older. I have gained weight. I have been spending most of my time at a desk for work or for school. Apparently I have outdated ideas for how to celebrate Pride.
I have not seen the extent of the ageism in the LGBTQIA+ community until recently. I was not a pioneer of the Pride movement, and there was an entire generation before me. I have, however, pushed and screamed to get equality. I dreamed of having a wedding where I walked down the aisle in an outfit with the top half being a tuxedo and the bottom half being a sprawling wedding gown. Black of course.
The time was not right, though. I did not have a lot of openly gay idols. I typically stuck with my divas like Madonna, Tina Turner, and, of course, my idol, Cyndi Lauper. I remember in high school when I waited until after first period, which was wood shop, to run to the bathroom and use temporary dye to put orange and yellow streaks in my hair. I remember having the checkerboard shaved into the side of my head. But, and here is where my origin story music would start, I was bullied. I was knocked down. I was tossed against the locker. I was fucking weird.
I left home at 17 to get out and find the world. I spent the summer with my oldest brother to visit and get advice on school. I enrolled at a university but at the last minute, I dropped out. What if life at that university was the same as my high school? I would be all alone in a city of millions of people and no one to turn to. No one to go home to.
I made some friends in the town that I was in. Obviously I moved out of my brother’s place. But I stayed there. My friends loved me and we had fun, but I wasn’t honest with them yet. That was to come. That is another story for October.
I finally came out by accident. That’s a story for an afternoon at the bar. So many mimosas needed for those stories.
I joined the Navy. I was going to be a Nuclear Submarine Engineer, but Clinton signed the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law. That is yet another story for another time, but I got booted.
As I look over my life and my experiences, the bullying, the gay bashing, the beatings, the drive-by beer bottle tosses, I can’t help but think that I deserve my place in the community. As I look for ways to celebrate and show our Pride, I keep getting the “that’s for old people” or “we don’t really do that anymore” or “how old are you?”.
And now, as we are approaching SF Pride, and as we are wrapping up the Pride month, I am tired again. This time, though, it’s not the same people pushing me down. This time, it’s different and I just don’t have the energy to fight today.
So, Happy Pride. Celebrate. Be yourself. Love yourself. Call me if you are feeling low or down or bad. You don’t have to be alone, but I am not going out to be there in the moments of Pride.