in which I go to pride …

So the last few years have sucked, haven’t they? Especially the last week, in which my rights were put up for grabs by the Supreme Court (my ass, as Danny DeVito would say) and taken away by my state’s government, who had trigger laws in place for a good long while. I thought Covid was rough, but nope, 2022 decided to be the worst year on record, and let’s just say that I’m glad I’m on Lamictal, Abilify, and Wellbutrin. Don’t worry; I’m still angry as hell, but I’m not having a complete breakdown like I would have otherwise.

And y’all, I needed a break. Just a reminder that there are still good people in this world. That there are people who are willing to stand up to injustice and fight for the vulnerable. And the world gave me Nashville’s Pride Festival.

I haven’t been to any kind of Pride since 2017. I was either working, or you know, Covid was being a dick, so I was having a special kind of hankering for my people. Luckily for me, I had some amazing people decide they wanted to go with me, which made the experience that much better: I was surrounded by love and acceptance and didn’t feel like I was out of place.

But it still felt different from the other Prides I’ve been to.

I’ve been truer to myself the past year than I ever have been, including my sexuality and my spirituality. This is the first year that I’ve been completely open about the fact that I’m bisexual/pansexual, and I’ve even been out on dates with people who aren’t cishet men, which is something I hadn’t really done since college. It’s also the first year in which I’ve fully abandoned the religion of my youth; I consider myself agnostic for the most part and certainly don’t believe what the Christian bible says anymore, which puts me at odds with my very conservative Christian parents.

Back in college, we had an incredibly harmful argument (from both sides – I basically told them to go fuck themselves and they overreacted about my personal choices), which left me fending for myself for a few months. I was set up to get a student loan to finish school, got an apartment and a car, started working at an Italian eatery run by Egyptians who didn’t know how to make Italian food, and was honestly ready to try and navigate the world without their help. Our relationship was somewhat repaired (it never really was completely) later on in the summer when I got into a really bad wreck with a semi, but there’s always this residual, unspoken thing that sort of hangs over us. And with the current environment being what it is, I’m worried we’re headed in that same direction.

With Roe v. Wade overturned and the inevitable attempt to ax marriage equality, I expect that things between us will devolve. After all, I couldn’t talk to my parents about how excited I was about going to Pride this year. Well, technically, I could, but it would have started an argument that would have likely clouded any fun that I could have had. After all, when I came out to my mom, she told me that she didn’t think I really was and that “you’re just doing this for attention.” Which … yeah. I sure as hell can’t talk to them about how Roe has affected me emotionally. Both of these conversations will just turn into arguments, so this leaves me to be as fake and evasive as possible to simply survive an afternoon with them.

But I wasn’t thinking about any of this as I saw the parade come down Broadway: colorful, happy people, celebrating who they were, and, save for the two picketers I saw with signs saying we needed to repent and that we were going to hell, it was a beautiful experience. I kept getting skipped when people were handing out flags, and a lovely young person gave me theirs. The outpouring of support from the parade participants regarding Roe v. Wade actually brought me to tears, especially since protest is at the heart of Pride, and some of the loudest cheering came when people proudly carried signs mentioned bodily autonomy or aborting the Supreme Court (and also when the drag queens appeared, but that’s expected). And I wasn’t worrying myself into nausea when I entered the gates to join my LGBTQIA+ family; I was all smiles.

Pride gave me hope when I didn’t have much to begin with – a jolt of it. It’s going to be a long, difficult battle, but I think I’m ready for it, even if it means my life has to completely reroute. Even if it means that the relationship with my parents is going to change. Even if it means that I won’t get to see the fruits of my labor. Because fighting for justice isn’t just about me; I will have to sacrifice for the good of others, and Pride gave me the courage to do that.

Like I said, I was all smiles.

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