Pride, Authenticity, and the Joy of Being You

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

This weekend was the celebration of Long Beach LGBT Pride, and the first time I experienced much of it exactly the way I wanted to. Last year’s parade and festival were held on the same weekend I went to my coach training in Glendale, and I missed most of the festivities. After long days of learning, I just didn’t have the energy to throw back even a drink or two and live it up as in years past.

This year I was in a completely different place.

I did not obligate myself to any trainings or seminars on the weekend of Long Beach Pride. I also did not obligate myself to throwing back a bunch of drinks and partying or living it up under the pretense of my lesbian pride.

Friday night The Wildcat and I met some friends at a new (and fantastic) wine bar and restaurant in downtown Long Beach. We did a wine tasting, had some flat bread pizza for appetizers, and talked and laughed for a couple of hours. Then we went home, made dinner and cuddled on the couch flipping channels until we were ready for bed.

Saturday morning The Wildcat and I woke up early and took Jackson to Vasquez Rocks for a little hike. It was the second time Jackson had hiked in as many days, and just the second time he’d hiked ever. He loved it almost as much as we did. The evening was designated “Date Night” and so we behaved accordingly, in our own little way.

Some people think of “date night” as a night to go out and live it up. Sometimes we do, too, but not this Saturday. On Saturday night we made dinner, watched the Dodgers in HD, and worked on the Neuschwanstein puzzle on our dining room table while listening to a playlist of our favorite music. We marveled at how much we adore our animals before we went to bed, and then we marveled at how much we adore each other after we went to bed.

Sunday, usually day two of sleeping in, turned out to be day zero of sleeping in. I got up early to shower and take Jackson in to doggy day camp. By the time I returned home, The Wildcat was showered, ready for the day, and had coffee abrew for the both of us. Almost time for the Parade.

Parades aren’t really my thing. My mother and grandmother always appreciated and ogled over the grand floats and marching bands and general entertainment that a parade has to offer. I didn’t get that gene. At least not for your typical parade of floats and marching bands. Gay Pride parades are a little bit different.

The Tournament of Roses Parade is proud of the roses and flowers used and detail shown on each float. Their pride is in the roses, the flowers, the presentation. Pride parades are about being expressive, unusual, authentic, and sometimes pushing the needle. Yesterday’s parade was no different.

While some of it felt like watching a live commercial for politicians (“Hey, vote for me, I’m driving in a car on your parade route and waving at you!“), and other parts of it felt like pushing the needle (the bondage and leather “float” where people acted as horses—bits in the mouth and all—and pulled their “masters” along in a carriage behind them while “playfully” being whipped), some of it was simply and beautifully about expressing pride in being who we are.

My father was afraid I would turn into one of those people. He feared I’d march down the street with my hair shaved, looking like a man, geared up in Doc Martens and a leather vest, waving my giant rainbow flag for all the world to see. He feared I would turn into someone he didn’t approve of, into someone I was not.

I can only be me.

It’s taken me a while to get to a place where I do not disapprove of those people, myself. It takes a conscious effort to simply allow people to be as they are once conditioned to judge against a certain code of ethics or moral standards. I am still human, and I work hard at removing judgment layer by layer.

You can only be you.

::

We are gay. We are lesbian. We are bisexual. We are transgendered. We are police officers. We are fire fighters. We are bankers. We are leaders. We are followers. We are Christians. We are Catholics. We are Jewish. We are yogis. We are creatives. We are writers. We are We are coaches. We are parents. We are children. We are siblings. We are all these parts that make up the whole. And that whole is human. We are human, and we are alive.

This year we didn’t make it into the festival. We had friends over for a BBQ and conversation. It wasn’t a big party, although I have to admit that there’s still the little 3rd grader in me that really wants to be the popular girl who has the party where everyone shows up just because it’s her party. I have to remind her every now and then that popularity is not about how many people show up or don’t, it’s about the quality of the people who do.

This year I expressed my Pride by supporting my community in being exactly who they are. And I expressed my Pride in being exactly who I am.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

But you don’t have to be gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgendered to undersand that. Being you is quite a universal concept. My joy is taking the concept, adding authenticity and creating reality from it.

What’s your joy?

Rainbow Flag image used under Creative Commons license via: brainchildvn / CC BY 2.0

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