I feel like I started writing this POV way before I went to the #PRIDE march last Sunday. I was asked by two of my best friends to accompany them to the parade, and of course, I said yes!
During the week leading up to the parade, I often got questioned about my motives. Many came from a place of misinformation, and that “¿pero qué van a decir?” mentality that ruled the lives of my grandparent’s generation and generations that preceded. When I told my grandparents about my plan to go to the parade with my friends, their response was not the one I was expecting. They asked me to reconsider. “What’s a straight girl doing at a gay parade?” they insisted people would ask. I don’t blame them. They’re from a generation where the bottom line was: What are people going to think? But here’s the thing: I don’t care what people might think or say! I know who I am. I know what I stand for.
So the day came, and I headed out in the scorching sun amongst a sea of color. The music was loud and people were proud. I began to inquire into what motivated others to attend, to march, and to celebrate. Their responses were as varied as some of the costumes. Some were there to publicly and proudly proclaim their orientation. Some were hiding under shades, not quite ready to be “out.” Many were there to demand equal rights. And others mourned the lives of loved ones who lost their life violently because of someone else’s intolerance. It was an eye-opening experience to see everybody accepting each other, despite their sexual orientation, their race, their hair color, and the outfits they were wearing (need I say, I felt underdressed?). For a split second, I felt that everybody was one, and we were dancing and singing and smiling (and maybe complaining about the heat), and we were all there for the same thing. To support, celebrate, and cherish each other as we are.
History has plenty of examples of “unlikely” alliances. Whites who supported blacks in their quest for racial equality; men who fought side by side women on the road to suffrage. So why is it such an unfathomable idea for straights to support our friends in the LGBTT community? We can’t live in a bubble. We all have to help one another and not abandon those who need us. There is strength in numbers!
There’s a quote that has stuck with me since the summer of 2015. It was there, waiting for me, powerful and silent as I walked down the cold and dark halls of the Holocaust museum; fearful because we are not immune from something like that happening again and hopeful because with my generation’s sense of inclusion and understanding, I trust we won’t allow it. Still, the quote I saw plastered on the grayish walls back then, seemed today to fade into the rainbow flag this morning. The words spoke to the reason I was there; if we don’t stand up to support other’s causes, who is going to stand up for ours?
As I walked down the streets and celebrated next to my friends and the community, I felt genuinely happy. For a moment, nobody cared whether you were gay, straight, trans, or still finding yourself, because we were all there to support those who needed us at the moment; this is what every day should feel like! We should be able to be united beyond the march, the flags, and the makeup. We should be united when we’re down, when we need support, when we need a friend, and when we need somebody to speak up for us. Knowledge is power. I’ve always felt that when you stand by someone and their cause, you are gaining so much more in return. You gain knowledge and understanding. To love others, we must understand others. And when you actually listen and get to know your fellow neighbor, you will soon realize that when we put things on a scale, we have so many more things in common than those that set us apart.
[brid autoplay=”true” video=”252788″ player=”8620″ title=”PRIDE Puerto Rico 2018″]