In honor of San Francisco Pride, I am taking a break from the topic of remodeling and design to write about a topic that is even closer to my heart. My partner Philip and I have accepted an invitation to ride in the San Francisco Bay Times cable car in the Pride Parade on June 30th. After living in the Bay Area for 32 years and attending countless Pride events, this is the first time we will be active participants in the Parade versus passive on-lookers. Both of us are more excited about the opportunity than we expected to be. The newness of the experience has prompted me to pause and reflect on what I am marching for.
- I am marching for the young children who recognize that they are different from their siblings and class mates and need to explore their preferences in a safe and supportive environment. I am marching to help protect them from the psychological and physical harm that scarred my childhood growing up in a conservative town in Kentucky in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I want them to feel a deep sense of pride versus the deep sense of shame that so many of us experienced in our youths.
- I am marching for the young lovers, who discover the joy and excitement of their first relationship. I am marching for the rights of teenagers and young adults to fall in love and experiment with sex without being tormented by parents, teachers and pastors who want to run their lives or stand in their way. I fell in love with another boy from my high school at the age of 15 and briefly experienced the rapture that first love can bring. Unfortunately, our relationship could not withstand the barrage of threats and lectures that ultimately severed the relationship for good. I don’t want others to live with the regret of missed opportunities.
- Lastly, I am marching for the older lovers who have waited all of their lives to be married. My partner Philip first asked me to marry him in the fall of 1979. At the time, I thought it was more of a joke than a serious proposal. Our relationship was very new and hardly ready for a long-term commitment. The idea that gay marriage would be legal in our lifetime seemed out of the question. Well, our relationship is still going strong after 34 years and it looks like Marriage Equality will become a reality soon so I think it is time to say yes to his proposal.
There are many compelling reasons to stand and be counted at the San Francisco LGBT Pride event. For me, it is the desire to make the painful and traumatic experiences that have impacted my life a thing of the past. It is about replacing feelings of shame and confusion with feelings of Pride in the truest sense of the word.
Take a moment to reflect on what Pride means to you. What are you marching for?