This Sunday is the Gay Pride Parade here in Toronto. The event is one of the largest in the world, the third largest in North America. Alan and I love Pride Week – yes, here it goes on for a week – the festive mood in the community is such that one can’t ignore it! It can be crude, wacky, commercial, but it’s filled with a good and happy vibe. The next three days will be of non-stop partying – Church St, at the corner of our street, is already closed for cars and there are stages set everywhere. There will be free concerts all day tomorrow and Sunday, and two parades – the Dyke March tomorrow afternoon and the Gay Pride Parade on Sunday. What I love the most in these events here in Toronto is that many straight couples come and bring their small children to watch. They feel they should be exposed to it from an early age. I applaud those parents.
On the Toronto Star yesterday, Andres Laxamana wrote a nice tribute:
Gay Pride something to celebrate
June 21, 2007
“Mom. Dad. I’m gay.”
In retrospect, Christmas Eve dinner may not have been the best time to tell my family, but at that point I felt that I just needed to get it off my chest.
My decision was not arrived at hastily. Like many gay men and lesbians, I had amassed a multitude of reasons to stay in the proverbial closet. What about my family? What will my friends think? What about my career?
These reasons, whether justified or not, suppressed what my gut had always told me was the right thing for me to do.
Sadly for many, these fears are realized after coming out. The loss of family and friends is a real consequence suffered by many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.
There is a feeling of isolation that starts way before coming out of the closet. Although on the outside, I was a well-adjusted kid, I knew very early on that I was different from all the other boys in the neighbourhood. It was only until puberty that I began to realize just what this difference might be.
The message in our society was clear. Different meant wrong. It took 27 years for me to finally feel comfortable in my own skin and to realize that different was not wrong – just different. At that point, I was tired of living a big part of my life as a lie. At that point, I needed to tell my family and friends who I really was. It just felt right.
I am truly fortunate that my family, even after my not-so-subtle delivery of the news, has been wonderfully supportive and open-minded. They have welcomed Adam, my partner of 10 years, with open arms into the family, just as his parents have welcomed me. The in-laws even love spending time together. How many straight couples have that luxury?
And although I can’t say coming out has not resulted in any losses, it has been a good litmus test for determining who my good friends are and exactly what in my life is truly important.
So, as summer begins, Adam and I are preparing to celebrate Pride on June 24 with our annual tradition of attending the parade with our close friends and both our mothers (our fathers don’t do parades).
For us, beyond the floats, bare skin and glitter, the day represents family, whether these families are biological or, out of necessity, chosen. Pride also represents community, acceptance and belonging.
Thinking back, I remember asking my mother on the Christmas Day after I broke the big news why she had broken down into tears the night before. “Were you upset about who I am?”
“That’s not the reason at all,” she smiled. “I cried because you felt you couldn’t tell us sooner. You must have felt so alone. I feel horrible that we couldn’t be there to support you as a family.” I knew at that point that I wasn’t alone anymore.
Nearly a million people attend Pride Day celebrations every year in Toronto. It always amazes me as I gaze over the massive celebrating crowds knowing many of these people have gone through the same experience I have.
It’s truly difficult on that day to feel alone.
Will have more pics over the weekend…