Disclaimer, Preface, Preamble, whatever. Please note: The judgements and projections contained within are mine, all mine and no one else's but mine. I own them, admit to them and hope to overcome them.
I went to Pride this year.
I ended up feeling very depressed.
Please don't misunderstand, I am proud of who I am and all facets of me, though the constant negative barrage of the media can be disheartening. And lately it is targeting teachers, but that's a different post for a different day.
Perhaps the latest dating mishap and subsequent realization of a long single summer ahead had a lot to do with my mood.
Perhaps a lot of my own personal growth and awakening to self had a lot to do with my mood at Pride.
Perhaps I think too much.
I also want to interject that I went to the Parade and Festival in character for a novel I'm working on. The character is an impartial visitor to this world and is trying to understand the gay community, as it is new to him as it doesn't exist where he comes from. And I was trying to see it through his eyes, which, in a way, are also mine, as I'm coming back into the community after some years away from it, and coming back into myself after my divorce.
Perhaps, it's a bit of all of the above.
I went to the Pride parade and festival alone, for the second year in a row, though last year, I marched with an organization. This year they didn't march, and over the past year, they didn't have any gatherings for me to participate in. Oh, well. It wasn't meant to be.
I found a stretch of grass on the median of Santa Monica Boulevard next to three women. I didn't choose the spot because women were sitting there, I chose it because it was empty, and I anticipated it might be shaded later. (I anticipated incorrectly.)
We conversed on and off while waiting for the beginning of the parade, one of the women was stationed at a nearby Marine Corps base and one of the other two drove in from Riverside. I never did speak much with the third.
|Dykes on Bikes, the traditional start of the Pride Parade|
|Followed by Boys on Bikes! (First time I'd seen them in a parade.)|
They wondered why I came by myself. I simply said none of my friends were available to make the trip. For the rest of the parade we had great conversations, covered a range of topics from teaching (they admitted to being brats in school), literature (one was a Harry Potter fanatic, one had read my favorite Chicano novel- Bless Me, Ultima, by Rodolfo Anaya. I told her to watch the movie.)
A float for one of the bars came by, and honestly I can't remember which bar. And no, I didn't get a picture. And here is where the depression began. Or, intensified.
On this float were several attractive YOUNG men. Okay, boys. Twinks, actually, as I doubt none of them was over twenty-five years old. They were dancing in their Andrew Christians, and nothing else except shoes and sunscreen. And it was quite obvious which ones might have been Jewish, as I could make out the outline of every part of their packages due to the thinness of the material. And some of them turned around and presented a different part of their anatomy. Needless to say, the men in the crowd roared with approval.
While I did see the attractiveness of their worked out bodies and youthful faces, I was saddened by the fact they may only see their bodies as their greatest asset.
I later saw a contingent of older men, decked out in leather, carrying other accoutrements common in the Leather/BDSM community; handcuffs, whips, chains, leashes. And I came to the same judgement. Is that only how they see themselves?
I hope not.
As I have come to try and understand myself, I have come to believe there are four distinct parts that complete us; mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. I have also come to learn that ignoring one part of the four can lead to an imbalance of self, which in turn could lead to complications; illnesses of the body or mind, and/or emotional/spiritual issues.
But, this is not my place to try and understand others, only myself.
And perhaps, that's the problem.
I don't, yet.
Perhaps there's so much I'm looking at, I'm losing my focus.
One thing I know, I've always been sensitive to others' pain. Once, one of my dog's kneecaps slipped out of place, and began yelping in pain. My ex-husband frantically called our vet and while I tried my best to assist my dog, I began to feel very faint and nearly passed out. I've actually gone into shock over violent acts depicted on television which my logical mind knew wasn't real, but I could not suspend emotional belief from what I was seeing on the screen. Perhaps, now I'm tapping into other's emotional pain as well. A friend once suggested I was an empath as I would call her and ask "What's wrong?" without saying hello.
And now with my spiritual awakening to Shamanism, maybe that's my calling; healing.
After the parade ended, I felt physically drained, with a heaviness in my heart. Perhaps it was just my mood at the time, perhaps it was the judgements I was passing, (as hard as I tried not to) but I kept coming back to my question, "Do these people not see they have a mind, a heart, a soul?" It's true I don't know if they do or don't see their minds, hearts, or souls; and some of them may indeed see and honor the other parts of themselves.
I did see elements of the other components in the parade; volunteer service, recreational and professional organizations for people to nurture those other parts of their authentic selves.
Many straight people complain about/question the need for LGBT pride month, and other ethnic pride/heritage months as well. Let's look at history. Briefly. For centuries, LGBTQ people have been persecuted, imprisoned, beaten, tortured, murdered. We have been disowned by our families of origin, our churches, our societies. We carry those hurts within us. We may overcome them, but do we really? Even after years of therapy, could there still be the possibility of some teeny tiny grain of our own self-inflicted homophobia still deeply buried in there somewhere preventing us from fully integrating body, mind, heart and soul, to be fully able to appreciate a fully integrated self?
I don't know.
After all, I can only walk my own path and no one else's and no one else can walk mine.
And, I'm still walking.