In any “normal” year, I would already be hard at work on the site of the SF Pride celebration, working with my team to deploy donation buckets out to the groups that man our gates to collect money from Pride goers.
That money goes into helping to keep Pride running, as well as giving grants to the non-profit organizations who send us their volunteers to do the job. It’s a job I’ve been doing in one capacity or another for the last…I don’t know anymore? Fifteen years?
You might think that it’s an odd job choice for someone with agoraphobia, and you’d be correct. It is. However, I learned early on in my battle against the irrational fear that having a job to do, having people who count on me to do that job, goes a long way in pushing the fear back.
When I first started working Pride with the Pagan Alliance all those years ago, I started off volunteering to supervise PA volunteers, but the Pride Donations department was just starting up a program to have coordinators who worked behind the scenes and I tossed my hat into the ring. Since then, I’ve been part of the team that did the work.
It provides me with a safe space when the crowds are overwhelming, and a task that needs doing to allow me the push I need to conquer the fear…or at least keep it at bay. It helps that it also includes a golf cart for part of the day, which affords me a little bubble of space around me.
All of that said, this is our second year without the event due to this damn pandemic. It just isn’t safe to cram that many people into that space, even now…even here in California where our numbers are way down.
I’ve heard a lot lately about why we still need Pride. We need Pride so that our community knows that we have their back. We need Pride because our transgender siblings are still being murdered at an alarming rate. We need Pride because our people are still facing discrimination in jobs, housing and even just in shopping. We need Pride because we need to lift each other up and help each other along.
In recent years we’ve started to realize just how many LGBTQA+ folks exist in this world, and it’s a lot more than we used to believe. I have a large number of non-binary and ace friends and family that ten years ago would not have felt safe to be who they are in the open…or even realized that there was a name for what they were feeling. I have transgender friends and family that have “come out” in the last five years, who are finally starting to feel that there is a place in this world where they don’t have to pretend.
So when will it be enough to not need a big gay celebration and parade? Never. It will never be “enough”. We should always celebrate who we are.
May this Pride weekend be filled with love and appreciation for who you are, Reader. May you feel safe to live your truth out and proud. May you make space for others to do the same. I love you all!