Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

7-13-13 RMB San Diego Pride Festival

7-13-13 RMB San Diego Pride Festival
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
Today the 2013 San Diego Pride Festival begins. Having lived in San Diego all of my adult life, I heard about the Pride Festival from an early age. We look at things differently as we age. I remember thinking, ‘What are they making such a big deal about being gay for, when there is so much tyranny in the world, abuse of various sorts, etc.' I was quite young and still in my “save the world” stage. It appeared to me to be a great big party. I have never been the party type. I didn’t get the significance.
Time travel twenty years, to my early forties, and I was ready to attend my first Pride Festival. By then, I had learned that no single person can save the world. There is no Superman…or Superwoman, thus blessed, with power to do so. By forty, I learned that what we can do is save ourselves and, in doing so, become better equipped to help…help, not save…others on their journey.
Despite my own resistance, I’d learned the significance of community. You seem to have been born with an awareness of the importance of community. I see it different than most. I can “join” a gathering just by being near it, experience the energy, enjoy camaraderie. I would rather not be “with” any one person. I’d rather be “with” everyone, with their energy….its hard to explain. Some would say it is my way of keeping distant, although I feel it is quite the opposite.
Nine years ago, as I neared forty, I penciled in a variety of goals. One of which was to live more openly and be supportive of others. My main reason for going that first year? To buy the ticket; to be counted; to toss my “vote” in that this way of life and supporting all lifestyles is important. That was it. I didn’t expect to see anything in particular; didn’t go with anyone. I planned to walk around and leave, having cast my ballot for the greater good at the gate.
One of my favorite experiences is being surprised by life; finding the unexpected…and being a different person in some way because of it; wiser, stronger, braver…better.
The energy I experienced amazed me. I found myself smiling, as I passed smiling person after smiling person. There was a palpable kindness in the air. After walking through the Festival once, I walked it again and again. Then I sat and listened to live music from the grass in front of the open air Balboa Park stage, as individuals, couples and families with children all played, danced or sat and watched with me.
It’s a wonderful type of Twilight Zone feeling, seeing biker dudes…or chics…flamboyant boys, butch girls…many quite “normal” looking folk…thousands of people in all, and everyone was kind to each another. People one would never picture socializing together…gather, laugh, dance…amazing. It is a place where everyone is welcome…what a concept.
I went that first year because I felt I had something to contribute: my support, my “vote”. What I gained was far more than anything I had to offer. I gained the knowledge, the experience, of what humankind is capable of. To all those that make San Diego Pride possible, I send many thanks…for their contribution to the greater good; for showing us what is possible; for making me wiser, stronger, more hopeful, braver…and better, for having experienced it.
With gratitude,

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