Today my babies and I shared our first Gay Pride event together. I ordered them onesies with rainbow-colored dragonflies on them, and “To Thine Own Self Be True” printed above. As for me, I wore a tank-top with the pansexual flag and the words “no limits” written over it. It was the most “out” I’ve ever been.
I was wondering if I was going to feel very exposed, walking around advertising my queerness like that, or even just being there. The thought crossed my mind a few times that I might run into someone I know, and would essentially be outed. However, I noticed a major difference in my thoughts about being outed since a mere month ago when I was outed on Facebook (Outed by Mark Zuckerberg and The Huffington Post).
When I was outed last month, I felt intruded upon – like I wasn’t ready for it and didn’t know what to expect. In the last month, I have had both negative,and extremely positive coming out experiences, and I think it’s made me feel more ready. The thought of being outed today felt strangely benign. Not only did I not feel exposed, I didn’t even think about whether I would or should until later in the day when we were sitting at an outdoor restaurant, and I saw a colleague of mine walk by with a Pride shirt on. This was my thought process:
-Oh, it’s ‘so and so’ (open my mouth to call out to her).
-Wait, do I want to do this? I’m at Pride.
-Wow, this is cool.
-Wait, what is SHE doing at Pride?
By that point she was gone. Okay people, yes, I hesitated, but it was cool, that it felt so natural to just call out to her.
Last summer I was driving through New York City during Pride. New York’s marriage equality bill had just passed and there was a feeling of pure exhilaration in the air. We drove past a car that had shoes tied to the back like after an old-fashioned wedding. Someone had written “We Got Marriage” on the window. I remember feeling so, well… PROUD. But I also felt strangely restless, like I was in a cage. I wanted to get out of the car and DO something, but I didn’t know what. Last summer, I admitted to myself I felt envy that I wasn’t THERE at Pride. In retrospect, I realize it wasn’t so much about being THERE during Pride, as it was about BEING there during Pride. BEING me. BEING queer. I wanted to be out of the car because I wanted to be OUT.
Pride was cool. I love the vibe when a bunch of queer folk get together. But the thing I loved most about the day was connecting with friends and just BEING queer. At dinner, we talked about whether we were gender variant as kids, when we knew we were queer, and whether we were bullied for it. I felt proud to be queer. I realized Pride is not about walking around wearing nothing but a rainbow flag, proclaiming one’s identity on a loudspeaker, walking in a parade, or dressing in drag (not that those things aren’t fun too . It’s about creating a safe space to proudly BE.
While we were all talking, I looked down at my babies. By this point, my daughter was wearing a rainbow-colored dress because she vomited on her onesie in the car on the way. I thought about how they were already at Pride at age 1. They wouldn’t have to go through any of the things we had. The bullying for being gender variant. The feeling that we couldn’t talk about who we really were. The wishing we had known sooner or wishing we had been honest about who we were sooner. The fear of even exploring our sexuality because we had been so brutalized. For some of us, just starting, in our thirties, to work it all out.
If my kids turned out to identify as part of the queer community, they would never have to find it like we all did, they would already be here. There will be “no limits” to how they can identify, like my shirt said. Even if they aren’t queer, I hope this community, and this way of BEING will teach them to wave whatever flag makes them feel proud, and indeed, be true to themselves. I will make sure they will never question whether they can proudly BE, and be loved at the same time.
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