Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thanks 2013, I Needed That!

As I reflect on 2013, and anticipate 2014, I am looking back in order to look ahead and become more aware of who I am by acknowledging who I was. I had initially planned on reflecting on all the events of 2013, but chose not to. But, instead I found a post I initially wrote this past summer, but for some reason never published. And yet, it seems very apropos for today. ~JB


Among the definitions of pride at Dictionary.com are these:
  1. a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.
  2. the state or feeling of being proud.
  3. a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character;   self-respect; self-esteem.
Looking at some of these definitions, or portions thereof, a proud person could be considered almost haughty. I guess it's how you carry yourself. 

After all, pride comes before the fall.

For many of us, Pride does come before the fall, in the summer. 

In June.

And we sometimes define it as a giant party.

I have attended various LGBTQ Pride events, on and off since coming out. I marched in the parade a couple of times before meeting my first partner and then, we would attend it and watch it together. But after a while, it became the same parade year after year. I mean, how many times can you watch hot young men dancing in their underwear (or less) to heart-stopping bass-thumping music on the bed of a flatbed truck?  What made the parades worthwhile were those community organizations that marched: Aids Project Los Angeles, The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, Gay Teachers of Los Angeles, Evangelicals Together, and Black and White Men Together were some of the community organizations that marched in the parades. Some of those groups are no longer appearing in the parades or have disbanded altogether. 

As LGBTQ visibility grew many major companies began having employee groups march in the parades.  Let's not kid ourselves, it was to show their acceptance so we would give them our business. After all, some gay couples allegedly have more disposable income as we don't have children to raise.

Stereotypes change, and same-sex couples are indeed raising children. But, I digress.
Group Shot!
Enough of the history lesson and back to the meaning of pride.

I marched in the parade this year.

I have been following both the National Office and Los Angeles Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network on Twitter, @glsen and @GLSENLosAngeles, respectively. When I saw a tweet asking for more marchers in the LA Pride Parade, I signed up.

7:00 Parade morning rolled around, ugh. But, I'm usually up anyway as my cat can't tell the difference between a work and non-work day.  I performed my morning rituals, and decided not to drive to  West Hollywood, as parking is a major headache on a regular day, and now with a gatrillion LGBTQ people storming the smallest city I know of with the seemingly most restrictive parking, finding a place to park would be a major migraine! So, I opted for public transport.

We've started moving! I'm carrying  their banner!
There were two reasons I decided to march this year. When my ex left, I could count my gay male friends without lifting a finger. Not even one. Our married life had left us somewhat reclusive due to budget cuts, the regular housework, the house and yard maintenance, the furry children and the sheer fatigue from teaching.  We had been members of a gay dance club, but when he began his coursework for his teaching credential, his time for dancing was limited, and even though I continued going, we eventually dropped out. And the people seemed to drop us. 

With no gay male friends, I lost touch with my gayself. What does it mean to gay? Other than the attraction to other men? Do I have to like Judy Garland songs? Or Lady Gaga? Katy Perry? Musical Theater? Must I go to brunch on Sundays? Or throw/attend lavish awards show parties?  I needed to find that community support, that community understanding, that community itself. I needed to expand my social circle. I needed to come back out.

Somewhere along the route!
I also needed that sense of pride from the community. Coming home to animals who love me is great, but they can't talk to me, reassuring me the bigots are wrong, they can't help me talk through rough times when I feel the pain of discrimination, of bigotry, of buried self-inflicted homophobia. I recall very clearly how proud I was, how loved I felt when I first stepped onto the parade route all those years ago. The energy this time was different. I still felt love, but maybe I was used to it after all these years. Maybe it was because I was older and no longer fresh out of the closet. I was about two years out last time, not thirty. Maybe the crowd was more used to the parades, since its inception in 1970.  

Maybe I just did it for my own sense of Pride.

JB- And, maybe I did it for my first steps in moving forward back into the community and into 2014! 


  1. I want to tell you I sincerely, genuinely, honestly enjoyed this post (of course I always enjoy your posts, but this one was striking). I know we have a few years between us, but you nailed exactly how I feel about wanting to be more social in the coming year, but also about wanting to be a more active gay man as well. I, like you, can't even count on one hand the number of gay male friends Keith and I have, and for all the same reasons you mentioned above. Life, work, furry children. And the Parade…how do I go on about the Parade? We stopped going because it was monotonous. The organizations made it worth while. I like scantily clad men as much as the next gay guy, but I can see that online. Anyway, I'm rambling. Excellent post, I'm glad you shared it. Maybe we can get together for 2014 Pride?? You're really just a stone's throw from us.

    1. Sean, Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I always appreciate your insights and feedback. I would love to get together for 2014 Pride. Let's coordinate as it gets closer to summer.