Pride ... free to be, for all of us,
I used to feel that Pride Day was exclusive. I didn’t feel I belonged. And of course not. I did not have any LGBTQ friends, and grew up not even knowing there were people who were different than me and those I knew. My first encounter with gay men happened to be in jail cell in 1968 - I was 21. And I was rounded up by the DC Police from the street in front of the Justice Department along with scores of other Vietnam War protestors. We were all bused to various police stations, and I ended up in the P Street NW police station, locked in a 12 X 12 foot cell with about ten other guys. They were all gay men, which took me a while to realize, but it became obvious from the language and the way the cops acted towards them. And they related to each other differently than the men I knew - more open, less competitive, in my view at the time. They seemed very bonded, and not horrified by the situation, and did not return nor seem bothered by the spiteful and meanness of the cops. And our differences were irrelevant as we got to know each other. “We,” as I felt included, had a good time!
My second encounter with a gay man happened to be with a not-yet-out Jesuit priest, also in Washington, DC. I met him at a group gathering that turned out to be organized by a Sun Yong Moon (aka Moonie) group. We were both dismayed by that, and he, Greg, and I got together occasionally after that. I remember how happy he was when he showed me his new, brightly colored socks that he bought (such a contrast from his black shirt and white collar!), and he frequently put his hands on my shoulders and arm (never inappropriately, but still unusual) - I was slightly uncomfortable, as in those days straight men (that I knew) only touched each in sports, and even hugs were rare in my family.
Over the next 30 years I made a few more LGBTQ aquaintances, and since moving to San Francisco about 5 years ago, I now have and enjoy many LGBTQ friends.
Relationship is everything. I no longer feel that Pride Day is for “them” - it is for me and everyone else too. I celebrate our human diversity. I honor our human diversity. Thanks to all those who brought this about. Below is a joint Lego construction made by my grandson and I to share.