This wasn’t my first Pride, but it was the first Pride that felt like celebration to me.
Mississippi’s first pride was in 2016 and I was there. As everyone was getting ready to begin the march, one of the coordinators came around to the floats and told us that it was rumors that there were hate groups conspiring to rain on our first Pride parade. It was only months earlier during a Take Down the Flag rally on campus that the damn KKK showed up – right there on Ole Miss’ campus. Plausible as those rumors were, hate decided to let us live that day and the first Pride in Mississippi went over without a hitch.
At that time, I was just starting to come out to other people. I’ve always been a low key type of bitch and that was like the first time I stepped out on those hoes. Small as it was, it was liberating.
Fast forward two years and I’ve graduated from Ole Miss. In transit to NYC for the fall, I opted to stay with best fran in D.C. to try to ease the transition of living in the city and my first weekend in town was Pride weekend. What a welcome this has been!
There have been rainbow flags up all week leading up to the festivities and THEY’RE STILL UP. People have them hanging in their yards and store fronts. The more I walk around, I see they aren’t just out for the occasion.
This was the first time I experienced Pride as a celebration. Not an exercise in tolerance.
I used to get home sick when I was younger and I would be away from home for more than a week. It was the only home I knew and the only safe haven I had… as long as I behaved within the parameters set for me.
Once I started growing up and said “Fuck that,” home started feeling less and less like home.
That’s really it. The South, as it is now, is only meant for the straight and the white. And I’ve been on a quest to find a sense of home ever since.
I think this past weekend was the closest I’ve come to achieving that feeling.