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June 10, 2009

Gay Pride: It’s not just for dinner

I’m not sure if it was coincidence or gravity, but the summer I came out I found this quote by Anais Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

I wrote this on a piece of paper and kept it in my pocket at all times, for a long time, until I didn’t need to anymore. It was more than a comfort or prayer; it was a reminder that coming out was important. Brave. It was terribly lonely and increasingly more dangerous to live as a straight person, to be a lie. 

I knew I was gay when I was 7. I was riding the TARC to school one afternoon, like I did every afternoon, and found myself staring at this girl from Mercy Academy, like I did every morning. We were supposed to “hate” the Mercy girls — I’m not sure why — but I couldn’t do it. I looked forward to seeing them: What would their uniform look like today? It also scared the shit out of me. Especially after one day, while watching one of them walk down the aisle (oh please sit next to me, oh please sit next to me), I thought, “Oh my god, I’m gay.” I detested them from that day forward, just like my brother and all his friends.

It’s never OK to be someone or something you hate because you’re afraid of being who you want, who you really are.

So let’s get our Pride on! 

Next weekend is the annual Gay Pride Festival (June 19-20), and it happens in June because this is LGBT Pride Month. According to the website, kentuckianapridefestival.com, there is a “Pride Interfaith Service” at First Unitarian Church on Thursday, June 11, which sort of kicks it all off.

Every bar, restaurant and coffee house across the city should participate by offering “Pride Specials.” Owners, hang rainbow flags in your windows. Come out in support.

I know there are many of you who are all, “Pride Festival? Whatevs. I went when it was just a picnic at the Water Tower.” If this be the case, then dust off those pink triangle pins, wash that rainbow tie-dyed T-shirt and head on down. This festival comes once a year, and it is the only queer event in Louisville. And: Pride is a family-friendly event, because as I always say, “You can’t bring your kids to the bar, but you can bring them to the festival.”

The queer population of Kentucky is much larger and far more diverse than we tend to think (single people especially); despite popular belief, there is more than one “scene” in gay Louisville. Some people die in the closet because they think queer people only like the bar scene, wanna do drag, sport a mullet. And while all of these things are completely acceptable, they are only attributes some queer people list while filling out a form on CompatiblePartners.net. 

Some Christians like to say that because “pride” is a sin, any festival that would use the term as part of its name is a sinful affair full of godless fools, dancing their way down the crumbling stairs of hell.

But pride doesn’t always mean arrogance or conceit. To be able to live openly, honestly and unapologetically as yourself, without fear of injury or attack, rejection or compromise, is the divine birthright for all, not the privilege of some. 

This past weekend I went to my good friend’s wedding. I had a great time. It was lovely, she was beautiful; it was a form of truth. At some point over the weekend, I realized I was probably the only gay person. Because I knew a lot of the people at the wedding before I came out, I had no choice but to remember what I had forgotten: It was a deep unhappiness and an almost impossible heaviness just trying to be straight.

“The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Pride is grace, acceptance. Pride is your patriotic duty. President Obama has officially proclaimed June to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. In his proclamation, Obama wrote, “As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected … I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.”

Tagged: Yep, I’m Gay |