I finally made it to see the Pride parade this year. I don’t know why it took me so long, I have no excuse. But I’ll be back next year- and the year after that. It is a rare experience to be around so much happiness, so much positive energy. It is a rare experience to be reassured that people are people, to be reassured that most people are mostly good most of the time. It is a rare experience to witness a display of acceptance on such a massive scale.
It is a rare experience to witness social change on such a massive scale, and within my own lifetime.
I still remember my first brush with the gay community, working at a summer camp in the Midwest. I rember my colleague H- a new friend, a man to talk nerdy with, a man to chat about the depths of life when we slipped away from the campfire to share a few moments alone under the stars. I remember when he told me, when he talked of his fear. I remember the tears glistening on his face in the moonlight. I remember my heart breaking. And I remember the fear, the well-founded, mortal fear.
“You are the first person I’ve ever told.”
This was a special bond, a bond that lasted the better part of a decade, lasted across hundreds of miles of separation, lasted until the change allowed him to take his place in the newly-formed community. Allowed him to be open- not without a touch fear and danger, but not the overhelming sence of fear and danger from the time when we first talked.
Things were changing, and the change allowed him to take his place in this joyful march.
I stood on the curb with my partner, cheering and waving and soaking in the energy. Calling out to my friends as they passed by. Happy to be a part of this, happy to stand as witness.
And ashamed that I could not stand for anything more.
I tried to picture it, tried to picture myself marching as a spanko, as part of the kink community. I couldn’t. I’ve become far more open over the last year in particular, some old safety protocols cast away. I’ve talked more freely of the things I write about, of what I get up to on the weekends. I no longer shrink from the topic when BDSM crops up in casual conversation at the local. I don’t go preaching from the mountaintops, but I don’t shy away either.
And yet, I am not ready to march.
But others are, not as kinksters per se but still marching. My heart sings for them.
Perhaps this is how it begins. The change is not yet over.
I am not ready to march, nor do I think my city is ready for kinksters in the streets. This is still a touch too taboo. But it need not always be this way. The change is not yet over. I may not march, but I will write, I will talk, I will do my part in this.
And, one day, I will march.