Up until 2014 my experience in the LGBTQIA+ community was limited. I met my wife on MySpace. Some of you may have even been Tom’s friend too. Our presence in the community remained mostly digital even after meeting in person. There weren’t many resources in our youth, beyond Hillary Duff defending our identities as more than a slur. June 2014 marked our first Pride together. It was one year after Edie Windsor struck down DOMA. History was alive and witnessed before our own eyes. We were both eager to be amongst the community to celebrate history being made but also the intense love that was growing between us. The last Sunday in June came and we got up early to get a good spot to see the parade in Midtown and waited for it to begin. Our experience quickly started to turn from a patient waiting moment to immediate excitement. while we stood waiting for the parade to begin.
The Grand Marshal’s that year were Laverne Cox and Jonathan Groff. I am a huge fan of both so when my wife asked Jonathan Groff to take a picture with me I was speechless that he agreed. He was as handsome and good natured as I imagined and I was on cloud nine. As a millennial and Gleek, my heart exploded at the encounter and the day only continued to get better from there.
The parade started and we were engulfed by the community and its openness. The streets were packed with people like we have never seen before. Despite being out both of us remained passive in public in fear of being hassled for being openly affectionate with each other. To see so many people simply being free was a life changing experience for me. It gave a younger me the strength to live her truth as openly and as often as I could. The fear still presides but the memory of literally THOUSANDS of people walking up and down the streets of Manhattan with confidence in a parade of love of themselves and each other remains the North Star to me every time I want to question my ability to be open. My relationship has always been something to celebrate and be proud of and that experience will always engrain a sense of bravery and pride inside of me.
Today is the 51st annual Pride Parade in NYC. While I’ve decided not to go, my heart is with those young, old, and closeted and all, who could have the same experiences as I did that day. Whether it’s meeting your favorite LGBT celebrity, or finally being in person doing all the things you never thought you’d have the guts to do. Enjoy your time, be kind, be respectful to each other and HAPPY PRIDE NYC!