Age Rating: 13 +
Picture Credits: http://outinamerica.com
The slow tedious walk, feet trudging along the gravel, chewing my lip and laughing like there's no tomorrow as the apprehension of the upcoming event eats at me. Wondering if I were making a mistake, dirt clotting under my shoes, palms sweaty. My mind tells me to turn and run back, that I don't belong here. All my life I had been raised by a conservative family, and doing this was going against all I had ever learned. Being subtle, therefor "respectful" to the heterosexuals. Never letting it be known. Always hiding...
And then I'm at the door, the news camera is on me, and the parting of those glass entryways like a portal to another world. Inside, music pounds, people laugh. Guys dressed as girls and girls dressed as guys, all standing around, mingling, and once I move into this other place, I feel as if reality has shifted.
Rainbows are an onslaught, hitting with full force, the smell of thick perfume and masculine spice all mingled, lacing in with the sound of the music from the two men on stage, doing a tango in the most provocative clothing I'd ever seen. And with each other. Men hold hands, some with arms wrapped around each other placing kisses along one anothers necks like they had never before existed. Clinging, tighter and tighter, tears trailing down their faces. Women laugh and drag kings and queens flaunt for all they're worth. Limp wrists, twinks, elfs, butches, and hundreds of other types frolick about. Rainbow boa's with flashing lights. Whistles and glow sticks. Oxygen bars, people sitting around getting high legally on that flavored air. But most importantly? Gays. Everywhere.
Purple triangles, out signs, women holding hands, kissing people open and out and it feels so wonderful. My arms are all over my best friend, and I'm clinging, buying everything I can that expresses who I am for the first time. Wanting to show it, wanting to be proud. Wanting to feel this joy as they do. I watch as the "woman" hosting the show dances around in her tight little showgirl costume, a very obvious Adams apple bouncing as she giggles uncontrollably. The world is a swirl of colors and acceptance as I see people wearing shirts with quotes such as "I dream of a world with acceptance, not tolerance, a place of love instead of apathy, a world of truth instead of lies. I dream of an Alternative Paradise." Or less profound "I'm gay, I'm proud, I'm loud. I'm fabulous!"
I see gay couples with their kids, the young ones dancing around the festival and giggling out of control. Two boys, brothers, obviously adopted to the lesbian couple they were with on the dance floor, charming everyone as they perform break dancing moves that I thought it was impossible for any twenty year old to do, much less seven. I see the children, happy, eyes shining, one clinging to the hands of their parents, around the age of thirteen, with a shirt on saying "I LOVE MY LESBIAN MOMS!" and a bright smile on her face as she tugs them back and forth, trying to find the right gift for their anniversary.
It all passes in a swirl, hours rolling over and over, and a commitment ceremony is performed, and the entire place is quiet, all holding their companion as tears roll down their cheeks, love pouring into the place in such a wave that I realize that there is no way this can be wrong. Bible scriptures I never thought about are brought to light, and I feel the tears stream down my cheeks as well. Two men, on stage to be commited, arms twined hard around each other, sobbing and stroking each others faces, wait until they are pronounced commited soulmates, and the taller one lifts up his gorgeous lover and gives him the most romantic kiss I had ever seen, before setting him down with the delicacy one would place down a porcelain doll. I meet them later, congratulate them, and watch them cling to each other with shining eyes as they hold each other with utmost love.
The only regret they feel, the only thing that dampers the commitment ceremonies is no one, besides this community, will recognize that love as official. And my heart breaks. How could this be wrong? How could a love so full, so complete, so perfect, how could this be wrong? How could it be wrong to express it?
I dance, I move along, I feel more liberated than ever. Soon it is time to leave, and I feel my heart sinking. But I am equipped to face the world with rainbow boas, shirts, jewelry, and pins, feeling a new pride for what I am and for what I will always be. Gay. I'm not scared anymore, feeling the arms of my new friends, the companionship I had made.
Having previously took the trek up the path filled with worry, I walk away filled with a new sense of self. Something stronger, something more powerful. I don't feel ashamed anymore. I keep the sticker on from "Out in America" on, the nametag saying, "Hi! My name is Queer!", and carry proudly the rainbow chain around my neck. I feel a swell of love, that inner turmoil easing as I realize that the fight we have been fighting for love and marraige is worth it. The pain in the eyes of those who got commited because they couldn't make it official still echoing in me, but the love of those two boys reaching something inside of me I had always known was there. And for the first time, I'm so filled with pride, I can hardly contain it. I want to scream to the heavens. Announce to the world what I am, and that they can no longer hold me down. And then that shirt makes sense to me...because you know what?
I am gay. I am proud. I am loud.
And damn it...I'm fabulous.