Pride was a beautiful, powerful, heartbreaking, exuberantly fun experience all rolled into one. It is, indeed, the opposite of shame, and that is beautiful to behold.
Forty-nine pictures going by, each with a name and an age on it. Too young, all of them.
The protesters themselves. While I have known few believers who would adopt their big signs and bullhorns tactics, I have known many who would promote their message. At one time, I agreed with it myself (though it never sat easy with me). I believe they believe every word, and it breaks my heart.
The gratitude and amazement on faces because for love’s sake we choose to stand in that space, in front of the people saying the vilest, most hateful things for the whole four hour parade.
The power of humor to diffuse a volatile situation. From the man who simply holds a neon colored arrow sign marked “Secretly Gay” pointed at the protesters all day, to the double entendre of #MakeLoveLouder, laughter was a clear relief to many in the wake of Pulse and in the face of loathing.
PFLAG. They make me cry. Parents who fight for their kids. Parents who’ve too often had to fight their communities and churches (and sometimes even themselves) to love their kids.
The other group that gets to me are the churches who march. There are so many of them — a sea of signs. Too many to read all of them as they go by. A stunningly beautiful problem.
The beautiful strength of friends who’ve fought (still fight) their own varieties of battles to live love with integrity — with all of who they are. They fight for others even when it costs them.
In the midst of all the “F— you”s directed at the protesters, just how many of the parade participants, with tears in their eyes and pain on their faces, made heart symbols with their hands and shouted “We still love you!”
It was a beautiful, powerful, heartbreaking, exuberantly fun experience all rolled into one.
And then I had to come down from it.
Friends all had obligations elsewhere, and as I walked down the crowded Boystown streets by myself, I struggled with feelings I’d been wrestling with ever since the Pulse shooting.
This is a community I own as family, and yet in so many ways, I don’t belong to it. I’m a white, cisgender, heteronormative woman. I’ll never know what it is to fear rejection because of who I could love — do love. I don’t know what it’s like to never feel physically or emotionally safe just being myself in public. I’ll never know what it is to fight against hating the part of myself that loves and desires. Not the way LGBTQ+ friends do. For all of the sideways ways I can relate to all those things, it’s not the same.
I love this community. I love the way they make family. I love the way they fight to live wholly as who they are with integrity. I love the way they defy shame with love. I love that I can be myself with them in a way I’ve rarely been with people “like me.”
But walking down Halstead, I was so aware that for all that these spaces feel like home, they are not my spaces. At least not yet, and I’m not sure how much they ever can or should be.
I felt very much in between.
But it was Pride. And as I walked along a tree lined side street, a young man passing by in a group of friends stopped short and said, “Oh my God, you’re beautiful! Can I give you a hug?” He gave me a sweet, sweaty hug and went on his way.
I walked on smiling, nothing resolved but everything affirmed. Especially love. I can’t imagine that happening with such innocent, exuberant joy anywhere else. And for all my in betweenness, there’s nowhere else I’d rather call home.