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20 June 2011, 2:00 pm One Comment

Pride: How a Parade Actually Made Me Proud

Submission by Gustavo, first-time TNG contributor.

Gustavo is a 20 year old, Costa Rican that is currently on a self-discovery journey through Italy.  He is a food science mayor as well as an art, film and music enthusiast who recently discovered his passion for writing and gay activism. Find more Gustavo on his blog.

June is my birthday month. It’s also pride month. This year, for the first time in my life, I got to celebrate it properly: in the eternal city, with a million other souls that together became one.  Together we made ourselves visible, we made ourselves heard and we demanded respect.

For me, pride was never about respect.  For me, respect never was of great importance.  It was something that came every now and them but would go away after a while, just as spontaneously as it arrived.

Not any more.

On June 11th, I was lucky enough to attend the 2011 Europride parade in Rome.  It was such an amazing impression. When you see for the first time a crowd that big. It’s really a beautiful feeling: discovering, or better yet, confirming that it is true, there are others. There really are others that think like me, others that share some of my most profound notions of life and understand how my head works, because theirs works the same way! Then, after the first shock passes, you start to see all the faces individually. You see each pair of eyes; each expression; each smile and you finally realize just how happy everybody is.  They are all celebrating!  And just like that, you get immersed in that new world, because it really is another world.  You see yourself surrounded by all this gayness (!) that is dangerously contagious.  You get this sense of community and unity you have never before felt in your life.

The most amazing part of it all is that even after sunset, after we walked together, after we hear this amazing performance by Lady Gaga, (that despite my most fierce resistance has finally won me over) even after we cry to the most moving speech ever by a 70-year old grandmother has taken on her son’s struggle as her own, this sense continues.  I am finally able to be in peace with myself because I have seen with my own eyes that I am really not alone.  That monster that I fought to repress for so many years is not really a monster.  That difference that I have struggled with my entire life is not that big after all.  I can be the person I am and that’s all right.

People celebrate pride.  People celebrate the fact that they are alive, the fact that they are.  They celebrate that they are who they are and they are the way they are.  They celebrate that a difference makes us the same and because we are the same, we deserve the same respect; because we too are proud.

I don’t know if maybe it’s just the thinking of a naïve, over-sensitive, over-optimistic, barely-out-of-the-closet twenty-year-old after his very first pride parade.  Maybe it sounds old and clichéd, but it’s a feeling I’d like to hold on to, for as long as I can.

Happy pride!

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