I marched in the Portland Pride Parade in the HP, Inc. section on June 18, 2019 along with my husband, who is an HP, Inc. employee. The experience made me think and feel and think some more.
As I walked through the streets lined with people out to show their support for the LGBTQIA community, I listened to people shouting supportive words, saw people with shirts and signs offering “Mom hugs” and “Dad hugs”, and saw people embracing their identities without hesitation. It was a beautiful to see so much support and love being expressed.
After a bit it occurred to me that several of the people in the crowd likely assumed I am a member of the LBGTQIA community and I smiled. Let them think what they want. The last time I cared what people thought about my sexual identity I was in high school. By the time I was in college, I stopped caring. Sometimes I even embraced it when some idiot guy who couldn’t imagine any girl rejecting him unless she was a lesbian lobbed the label as me like some kind of accusation.
As I walked the parade route in a group of people who were both part of the LBGTQIA community and straight, it occurred to me how privileged I am. I don’t have to care if someone mistakes my sexual identity for something it’s not. I can walk away from that parade where assumptions were made and walk right back into my life where my sexuality/gender identity will not affect my opportunities or how I’m treated in a restaurant or by a business or in a job or by a healthcare professional. I can walk back into my life where I don’t need to pretend to be something I’m not just to survive like many LGBTQIA people in the world do.
I can hold hands with the man I love anywhere I want. I can hug, kiss, and otherwise express affection for the man I love in public. No one will care. Most people won’t even notice. Some people will even call it sweet. I don’t have to worry about getting beat up or thrown out of a place of business or called names or any one of a whole host of cruelties people lob at members of the LGBTQIA community just for doing things that straight people do every day without a second thought.
I can walk in the Pride Parade as an ally and an advocate for the LGBTQIA community. I can walk to show solidarity. I can walk to show support. I can walk to show the world that I am proud to be an ally and an advocate. I can walk to show that I don’t care what anyone else thinks of me.
I noticed the myriad companies who had employees marching and listened to the announcements designed to highlight each company’s inclusiveness. There are many companies who participate. Participation in events like Pride are important to send a message to the world that the companies participating are inclusive and support the LGBTQIA community’s rights. But let’s be honest, they are also great publicity.
The Pride Parade inspires individuals, offers support for those in need, and encourages everyone to stand strong and proud in their identities. Yet, part of me longs to live in a world where the Pride Parade ceases to be necessary because equality, prejudice, and hatred no longer force people to hide who they are.
Until that day, I’ll stand beside my LGBTQIA friends and family. Until that day, I’ll stand up for my LGBTQIA friends and family who can’t risk being seen yet. Until that day, I’ll stand in the midst of a crowd of people and let people make assumptions about me because I really don’t care what people think about me. I’ll use my privilege, my straight white privilege, to stand with those who are marginalized to the best of my ability as imperfect as that might be. And, I’ll do it with love.
Originally published at http://writewithtlc.blogspot.com on June 20, 2019.