In the spirit of equality, togetherness and reaching out to any first-timers in this month’s Pride celebration, I’ve carved out some time in my Pride Weekend to write a letter to an anonymous friend who is valiantly working through her coming out experience. I think that knowing me makes it a little difficult at times because I’m so very comfortable with who I am but I remember when I wasn’t… so this is dedicated to my dear friend but also to anyone who is coming out… and to all of us, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender or queer, who know what it’s like to feel small in this big, big world.
Welcome out of the closet ~
The closet was certainly a comfortable place so let’s start by acknowledging that it was somewhere known and a place where you could predict your own behavior and your interactions with others. You knew your “wardrobe” and what you enjoyed wearing in this world and while you were trapped in the semi-darkness, darkness can be soothing when light is blinding. So, an affinity for being hidden is natural…
But that isn’t your story anymore. All of these rainbow flags and colorful people can be overwhelming! I remember my first gay pride parade and how uncomfortable it was to see so many “proud” people, holding hands, kissing one another, laughing loudly, dressing wildly. I thought, “Wow! They are so pretty” but I was frightened at the same time. I felt like the whole crowd could sense that it was my first time and like a pride virgin, I was shy and reserved, confused and my stomach was in knots. So many people… celebrating what? Themselves? Their sexuality? Their friendships? Love? Their leather chaps and feather boas? What the?!
I saw more SKIN at a pride parade than I thought was legal. I thought, “Is this what Woodstock looked like?” and I wondered how on earth I would fit into this “freak” show. But that was the first year…
Over the years, I’ve learned that Gay Pride matters not because we get to wave our freak flags but because we become part of a community that sticks up for one another and agrees that only in diversity can the oneness of creation truly be manifest on earth. Does it sound hyper-spiritual? Well, I guess that’s what I call “homospiritual.” Gay Pride is this one month in the year and sometimes only a few hours when people identify with one cause: Equality. The events aren’t really about sexuality at all.
It’s about equality and how there’s room for everyone in this big, big world!
So this year, as you participate in some of the wacky events that make up the culture of gay pride, I hope that you can take a deep breath and realize that no one is asking you to become like them, full of flamboyant traits or over-the-top expressions of your sexuality. Rather, find YOURSELF in the crowd… not by literally looking around in the crowd and identifying with anyone, but realizing that in this crowd, you matter. Just as you are…
And whether you come out entirely, to your family and every friend, co-workers and acquaintance you ever meet, the point of this month and this weekend is that you fully come out to the crowd and realize your unique, intrinsic worth in a community.
And recognition of oneself, in the midst of a crowd… that’s not a gay pride matter, that’s a human matter. We have the gay pride phenomenon to thank for reminding us all that we are worthy of a celebration, because of who we are, not because of who we love or what we do.
So enjoy yourself this month and this weekend. The rainbow love and light that awaits you out of the closet is exciting but it is a hard adjustment when you’ve been told that you don’t matter and sameness has been worshipped rather than diversity. Be gentle with yourself and know that in time, you will know like I do that being a lesbian doesn’t make me special… but being myself does.
I love you.