It's June, y'all! Long ago (2002), in a galaxy far far away (San Francisco) Pride didn't start until the Friday before the last Sunday in June. Now we have entered a world of rainbow capitalism where corporations pretend to be allies in order to profit from the pride dollars being spent during the
month of June. Now, it's Pride Month, not just Pride Weekend. We're not bitter about it. To the contrary, we're thrilled that more people are encouraged to attempt to understand our plight, while also enjoying all of the colors; the pageantry; the fabulousness.
This year, to celebrate Pride, we decided to pose ourselves some questions. Yes, we know what you're thinking. You can't just survey yourselves. But, here's the thing. We can. And have. And here's the result. We've already heard from Jeremy. Now we'll hear from Don. Stay tuned folks it promises to be a ride. What was your first pride event?
My first pride event was accidental. Having grown up south of Madison in a very small town in the 80s, I'm not even sure you could have called it a closet. I was that boy that did what he could to explore his interests while also spending copious amounts of psychic energy trying to convince those around me that I was likely heterosexual. Yeah, it was a losing battle.
Anyway, on a Saturday in early May, 1988 the city of Madison held its first Pride Parade. It just happened to be the same day as the state's band and choral solo & ensemble competition, which was also happening in Madison. I'd done my competing and headed out for some shopping on State St. What gay high schooler ever passed up a chance to shop on State St?
I eventually ran into a "roadblock" in the form of a pride parade. I remember standing and thinking about their courage. Deep down inside I knew who I was. I knew I was one of them. I just couldn't admit it. I'm thankful I had that moment.
What was your best Pride event?
When I lived in San Francisco, my partner and I invited my niece to come spend a week with us. We had no other expectations outside of having a nice visit with a niece I love. While she was there, we actually both got roped into doing work for my partner's restaurant. We were tasked with putting together appetizers for the gala ball to wind down the Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. We had a great time! On our way home from the event, my niece came out to me. I was honored to know she trusted me with that information. She hadn't yet told her mother, my sister, and I had to keep it from her because there's one thing you learn as a gay. It's not your duty to out anyone.
The next day we went to see Rent in SF and spent time at the pride festivities. I treasure that day, as I helped my niece find her way and to understand the acceptance that was in the world and that she wasn't alone.
What does pride mean to you?
It took me a long time to feel pride. Now pride means that I don't have to worry about your feelings. To quote a protest chant from decades past, "We're here. We're queer. Get used to it." It's honestly how I live. If you ask me a question and the answer should include my husband, brace yourself sweetheart because I will tell you I'm married to a man. Pride to me is knowing that I have no obligation to fit anyone else's expectations. I am and do whatever I know will make my life better. Judge me all you want. I'm the only one allowed to determine the course of my life. If it doesn't agree with you, that's on you.