I completed my first Philly Pride parade sign the same way I completed my homework assignments — at 3 a.m. in my work uniform.
My sign stated “Miss me with that straight shit,” and packing the hours leading up to the parade with sign-making activities made it easier to avoid thinking about how new this experience was going to be.
In preparation for Pride on June 10, I read articles and pored over old photographs. As I realize I’m young, and in many ways just beginning to find footing in the queer community. I decided that if I was to see a float for the Gay Men’s Chorus drive by, then I would be sure I understood its significance.
I looked forward to the vibrancy of the celebration: the marching bands and drag queens leading the way to Penn’s Landing. I wanted to make sure I not only took part in the Pride festivities, but also comprehended the speeches given.
I haven’t always been upfront about my sexuality. I’m not a very loud person like the stereotypical queer person is supposed to be. I’m not promiscuous or confused about my sexuality or a “bad driver,” either. If I never told you I was bisexual, you’d probably never guess it yourself.
In high school, I downplayed my attraction to both men and women by avoiding the expression of serious romantic interest for either gender. I finally found a safe environment at college where I could be honest about my identity. I joined the Temple theater group, Insomnia Theater, my freshman year and, even though I no longer frequent their shows, the people I worked with and observed pushed me to step outside my own boundaries.
Attending Pride felt like reaching my own finish line. It took my commitment to all parts of myself to the next level.
The morning of Pride, I wore all my brightest colors and painted blue, purple and pink stripes on each cheek, before marching all throughout Philly with the slogan on my sign I’d known was true since I was 7 years old.
I try not to force myself into anything I’m not ready for, but having this statement day where I could be honest with all of my friends and family felt long overdue.
As I followed the floats and people throughout the route with my friend Meghan. I didn’t talk much. I didn’t have to legitimize anything. My experience at Pride was a carelessness well-deserved.