Today is the big pride parade in Vancouver. Every time I go to a pride event anywhere I cry. I am always so full of joy for all the freedom I see and feel from everyone at these events. I am hit especially hard when I see older people at these events. I hurt when I think how hard they fought and how much of their lives were filled with hate and judgement from other people. I’ve seen plenty of it in my generation and I know it was worse for every generation before mine.
I will always remember my first gay pride event largely because it was the first gay pride event in my home town. I can’t help but smile when I remember me and my best friend, who had only come out within the last year, decorating the Kiwanis Performing Arts Centre with rainbow balloons and streamers. There was so much love and support in that room as people from our small town and the surrounding areas got on stage and performed drag numbers, many for the first time (like my little sister, who didn’t know she was gay yet ahahahaha). I remember my Mom showing up even though it was hard for her to do but she knew her love for the people in the community was more important than the years of teachings that had brain washed us. As I write this it chokes me up to think about how much my family and our community have grown.
When people find out where I grew up they ask if it was hard to grow up in that community knowing my stance and experience in the LGBTQ community. It wasn’t that hard for me because my views were aligned with the popular opinions. I believed that there was something wrong with you if you were gay. I just pushed any thoughts I had away and took advantage of my bi-invisibility. But it was not easy for anyone who was “out”. Not easy at all. You were an outcast and you expected to be roughed up now and then. I graduated in 2002, and our first pride was 2003, which was the year my best friend came out and the year my homophobia disappeared forever.
I am very grateful for people like my friend who were openly gay even though they knew it meant people would try to get them fired, they’d be spit on when they went to the bar and they may even get physically assaulted. It is because of you that when my little brother graduated 11 years after me, there were several LGBTQ students attending with their partners and in clothing that didn’t match what society thinks people with their private parts should wear. It’s because of you that his generation started flying the pride flag and having marches to celebrate. It’s because of you that our city hall also flies the pride flag and that the cross walk at the high school is rocking those pride colours as well. I am so proud of my small town for having such pride and I want to remind all the people in the community that they are loved and accepted.
This week I was reminded of the how it felt growing up in my home town when the local paper made a terrible call when they printed a letter from a very angry, hate filled individual that almost made me forget how great my home town is. This person was so disgusted by the rainbow side walk. I will not repeat anything that was said. I will just say that it reminded me of why I thought I would go to hell if I ever let my same sex desires come out. For a moment it made me feel so glad that I had left and that I was never coming back. But then I remembered my last visit home.
A few weeks ago I went home to celebrate the most beautiful wedding. My little sister finally married her wonderful partner. They were a sight to behold. Two brides is so hard to handle. There is just too much beauty!! It was impossible not to cry, especially when the parents gave their speeches about how much their daughters taught them about love. There was nothing but love in that room, and there was nothing but love in the community. As we stood outside the art gallery (where they got married), tourists were clicking photos like crazy. When the girls drove through the city in the ’73 Mustang convertible in their gowns, they got nothing but cheers.
My home town is amazing and I hope that every LGBTQ person who read that disgusting letter knows that this person does not reflect the majority. And I hope that the local paper seriously considers the next time they decide to print hate speech. (I believe it is important for media to reflect multiple voices and opinions, but hate speech is not one of those voices that should be given a platform.) But most of all I wish everyone a happy pride and a happy pride filled life!
I will leave you with a song off of my EP that was inspired by a band mate when she came out. The lightness and pure happiness I felt from her were way too inspiring to not write a song about it. She is featured in this song singing the bridge. Love is Love Y’all!