It is 2017. I will turn 50 this October. It was in the 1980’s that I remember attending our first Gay Pride Parades in Omaha. We walked from downtown Omaha to Turner Park. There were no floats. There were banners, signs, and march chants. I remember seeing so many of us gathering to talk, catch up, and share news about who had died, who was “sick”, and any news on a cure. We were just getting started with the AIDS Crisis.
So yes, I grew up with a different meaning surrounding community, “gay pride” and pride marches, rally’s, and festival. I have helped produce 5 prides in Omaha in my life. I know first hand how difficult it is, a balancing act to try and please everyone: bars, groups, and people who have loud voices (interestingly, also the ones with the least amount of time invested in helping, sharing resources, or doing something constructive to help build.)
My focus has been, is, and will be is what serving our community. I think some of our best prides, in terms of really rallying people, informing people, involving people, and engaging people have been in the past. It will continue to evolve to be what the community makes it.
I think “we” safe Americans forget too often our history of the not too distant past, and the current conditions around the globe that others face. We like our safe bubble that is someone protected; and the insurmountable mountain of work continues to grow and build.
And for those preaching, teaching, and promoting hate, disdain, violence from the pulpit, the church, or your words… stop! If what you have to say is not true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, or kind keep it to yourself. Don’t share it. We don’t need that hate! What you represent is illegitimate. Yes this are harsh words, and they needed in the face of religious persecution, oppression, and hate that is created by such bigotry, and divisiveness.
There are so many facets of pride, so many layers of pride, and so many ways to celebrate pride. However you identify, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, ally, +, intersex, queer, or… do it! Be proud. Don’t apologize. Don’t give up. Don’t ever be ashamed. BE YOU! Yes it will be tough sometimes. Yes it will be rough sometimes. Yes it will be dangerous sometimes. And it may hurt. Badly. AND it is beautiful. It is empowering. It is healing. You are beautiful, loved, and worthy just as you are!
To the young ones I don’t know, and the ones I do. To those who are no longer with us, and the ones just being born. To those whom I’ve known for many years, to the those whom I met a few days ago. To those living here, and those living there… Happy Pride. May you find the courage, strength, and wisdom to always be apologetically you always. I LOVE YOU!
PS: For details about Pride in Omaha, visit: www.HeartlandPride.Org