When I imagined my first Pride Month since I’ve been out, I pictured myself going to events and parties, watching parades, and cheering through the streets of two cities.
I looked forward to diving into the community celebrations in both Boston and Providence.
Obviously, that didn’t happen.
There was a sting of disappointment as I crossed the weekends out in my day planner, along with all other major plans for the year. The world shut down, and I couldn’t help but feel sadness alongside my understanding. It was going to be my first Pride, and it was cancelled.
But I was reminded of something; Pride can’t be cancelled.
It’s not about the bars and clubs. It’s not about the parades. It’s not about the rainbow merch—though, the rainbow Converse my partner gifted to me are incredible and I love them.
Pride is about celebrating who we are, who we love, and the rights we’ve won over the years. It’s about community, and gathering, and pushing forward toward more equality.
It didn’t take grand outings to celebrate my individuality. I didn’t need those things in order to feel proud of who I am, of all that I’ve discovered about myself, of how far I’ve come. I was still able to have a meaningful Pride month, even in this time of COVID-19. As I look back at the month of June, I can see what I experienced and observed.
1. I threw out more social expectations, and I feel more like myself.
Since being out, I’ve been shifting more into who I am, mainly through figuring out what I really like, and what was just social expectation. This includes how I appear in the world.
While my hair had been getting shorter and shorter during quarantine, I really took a leap this past June and allowed my partner to give me my first faux hawk. After going between long hair and lobs over the years, this was an extreme change—and I couldn’t be happier with it.
I’ve also been molding more of my true style lately, and letting go of old clothing items that were purchased to help me feel as if I might fit in. Shopping online has been a challenge, especially because I’m feeling the need to try new things, new styles, and I can’t just try them on. But even then, it feels good to hone in on what I like, and discard what I don’t.
2. I spent time with loved ones.
Through long-term quarantines, I was able to spend a little time with my sibling, their partner, and my mother. While the time spent was more around my birthday than Pride, it was still important to me to have those experiences and interactions, especially now.
My family and friends have been supportive throughout my coming out process. While we didn’t attend parties and toast to Pride, their continued love and support still existed, even at a distance.
I spent a lot of time with my partner, too. Truthfully, she’s the one who reminded me that we could make Pride special without all of the events. She was absolutely right, and being in her presence made me feel it the most. When I look into her eyes, or take her hand, or kiss her forehead, I feel proud, and grateful, and joyous. The time we spend together, the very existence of our relationship, is a beautiful way to celebrate Pride.
3. I gave support to others in the community.
One of my goals for 2020 was to include myself more in the LGBTQIA+ community. While I wasn’t able to attend events after February, I was still building relationships and finding online groups. Being part of the community has helped me grow and learn.
There were moments where I was able to give back to the community, too. While I didn’t expect that sharing my own story could help others, in big and small ways, I’m honored that it has. I’ve received messages from those who have watched my journey or read my articles. Some were just to thank me for being open and sharing my experiences. Others had questions about my coming out, my pending divorce, and being an LGBTQIA+ parent who came out later in life. These conversations have brought just a light to my heart.
I’ve also taken the time to lift up Black voices and learn more about the oppression that people still face in this country, including those who are people of color within the LGBTQIA+ community. I’ve been examining my privilege more closely and I have done what I can to offer support from home. This isn’t something that I’ll stop now that June is over, either.
Pride was never cancelled, it just looked different this year.
It was a month of growth, and gratitude, and action. My partner, my friends, and family—cancelled parades and parties won’t take those things away. I’m immensely grateful for the love and support that surrounds me, and it’s worth celebrating throughout the year.