On Pride

My world used to be black and white. I grew up in a conservative area, went to a conservative Christian church, learned right from wrong, thought I was right about everything, graduated from college, and went on my merry way out into the world. One day my friend took me to a gathering at her friend’s house. It was at a quaint townhouse in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, where I had just moved. Our host greeted us warmly, introduced himself as Todd, and invited us inside for mingling and drinks. Todd’s house was in walking distance to great shopping, restaurants, and bars, had a great view of the city, and was both classy and cozy at the same time. I was jealous. I was also a little uncomfortable. Here I was in my new city, at a fun party, and all I could think about was the fact that Todd was gay.
At that time I was still holding on to pieces of my black and white world. I looked around the party filled with people talking, laughing, and having a great time. Most of them were older than me, all of them were new to me, and well, Todd was not the only gay person in the room. So there I was, clutching my wine glass, overwhelmed by my new life, trying to reconcile what I had been taught and what I was seeing in front of me. Was this wrong? Were Todd and his friends dirty and leading a life of debauchery? Most, if not all, of what I’d heard about being gay came from my Christian upbringing. But what if I had never been told being gay was “wrong” or read verses that said the same? Would I see everyone at this party simply as people instead of dividing them in my mind as “people” or “gay people”?
Awhile after Todd’s party the same friend asked me to accompany her to a winter triathlon she was doing in a nearby town. We stayed with a woman she knew who had a beautiful house with large floor-to-ceiling windows that allowed for stunning views of the local mountains. We settled our things in the basement and went back to the kitchen for dinner. Several other women had joined our host to carbo-load before their race. I looked around the table and realized I was at a stranger’s house, in a secluded town in the mountains, eating a spaghetti dinner with almost all gay women. I swallowed my piece of garlic bread whole. I was uncomfortable. Again.
This time I was uncomfortable that I was uncomfortable. I didn’t want to feel that way. I knew it wasn’t about them. These women were smart, funny, incredibly gracious, not to mention welcoming, and we were literally breaking bread together. No, I knew my discomfort was about me. I was uncomfortable because I was experiencing a part of the world I was taught to look away from. I wasn’t just experiencing it, I was part of it. And I liked it. So, I focused my discomfort on myself, where it should have been all along.
Todd did not become my best friend, nor did any of the women from my spaghetti dinner, in fact I’m not sure I ever saw any of them again, but they did pull me through a doorway I would have otherwise walked by. That night in Todd’s living room I realized being uncomfortable doesn’t mean you have to walk away. That weekend in the mountains I made a choice to let love win, and it did, and it still does. I’ve known many more Todds since that time in my life. I’ve had not one, but two, men from my past come out to me in my Facebook inbox. Both times I smiled at my computer screen with a goofy grin, full of joy that they existed, shared their truth with me, and seemed really, really happy. Thank you Todd, and ladies, wherever you are.
As I was revisiting these moments from my past I kept asking myself, “why is Pride important to me?” Images of rainbows, parades, and flags danced in my head. Thoughts of love, acceptance, equality, and human rights quickly followed. Those are a few reasons why Pride is important period, but why is Pride important to me? Pride is important to me because there was a time in my life when even the idea of Pride was something I looked at with disdain and dismissal. Though I wish this weren’t true, I thought things like, “these people are weird, they are living a life of sin, they are going to hell, they are not worthy of love, they will get what they deserve.” I was surrounded by a community of people who told me that and I believed them. I am horrified by the truth I was that person.
Pride is important to me because the world is not black and white. All of the colors of the rainbow deserve to be seen and celebrated. Pride is important to me because it reminds me that people can change, because a long time ago I changed. Pride is important to me because love is love and we will all miss out on knowing and loving some amazing people in this life if we are afraid to be uncomfortable.


1 Comment

  1. How Strangers from the Internet Changed My Life on December 13, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    […] Or something deeper like I’ve stopped comparing my life to others or how I see things like love and equality differently than I used to. Or I could go really big and tell you how my faith has changed, but […]

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