Today I got to go to the Seattle Pride Parade! It was glorious! Look at me all happy and rainbow covered in my "Make America Gay Again" hat from Cupcake Royale. (Get you one, btw. Great cause, great slogan.) It was really, really wonderful.
And this was not what I expected at the start of the day.
Pay no attention to the man behind the mask. My friend's lovely child did not agree to be featured prominently in this post. So... DISGUISE.
Lemme back up. I love the Pride Parade. It is a huge celebration of love and joy and diversity and unity. It appeals to all my ushy-gushy feelings. It makes me feel like I'm part of something when I often feel separate from it. I love seeing all my LGBTQ peeps out and proud and celebrating each other on the streets of Seattle. I love watching allies coming out in throngs to support the LGBTQ community and celebrating with us. I love the love, my friends. And I've been going since the good ol' days of the Capitol Hill Pride Parade (RIP... *sniff*).
But, I haven't been since I had kids because going downtown and finding parking and schlepping the kids and the stuff and the snacks (THE TYRANNY OF SNACKS, you guys, WILL IT EVER END) many, many blocks to a very crowded street to find a spot where two tiny people can actually see the parade and then listening to them fuss and whine their way through it was just... ugh. It was too hard. The Pride Parade is supposed to be FUN! and CELEBRATORY! and this did not sound fun. I've been to parades with my kids, people. It's torture. I choose my battles and I was not dying on that hill. UNTIL THIS YEAR.
This year, the Smartlings are 5 and 7. This year, they get it. This year, they both have attention spans longer than 30 seconds. This year, they can get their own snacks out of a bag. They can understand what Pride is all about. We can talk about what LGBTQ stands for, and they get it. They're old enough to understand that mommy used to have a girlfriend and what that means. And they're old enough to start to understand why news like the massacre in Orlando is so devastating. So, when my dear friend suggested that we go to the Pride Parade together this year, I thought—for the first time since having kids—YES! Going to a parade sounds fun!
It sounded especially fun and wonderful because things have been hard lately. Life has been kicking my ass. And having this bright spot to grasp for at the end of my week kept me going. I was so excited to go with my entire family and show my Smartlings what Pride is all about. We got rainbow gear. We had a plan. WE WERE EXCITED AND WE WERE ALL SET.
And then my older Smartling woke up at 5am this morning with a hell of a fever and a barf and a big ol' panic attack.
And then my family couldn't go to the Pride Parade together anymore.
I lost it. Smarties—this news completely crushed me. Like WAY more than it should have. I had been holding on so tight to the idea of this joyous, inclusive, wonderful experience together, and when it couldn't happen anymore, I just lost it. Big, sad tears and everything. And I felt really, really dumb for reacting that way, but I couldn't help it. I'd needed that joy, and then it was gone.
Now, could I have gone with the younger Smartling alone? Yes. Could I have gone all by my own self? Yes. Did I want to do any of those things? NO. BECAUSE THAT WAS NOT WHAT I HAD ENVISIONED AND NOW IT WAS ALL RUINED.
Listen. I get that I sound like a 5 year old. I felt like one. But this was the reaction I was having and I couldn't stop it. (And being up since 5am on 4.5 hours sleep didn't really help matters, to be honest.)
Smartner woke up to find me in tears in the living room, crying about not being able to go to the parade. Like a small child. And he said, "You need to go. You need to go and be with your friend and have a good time and just and be you. It'll be different than if we were all there, but it will still be awesome. It might be better."
And, you guys? HE WAS RIGHT. I didn't want to do it. I had to be talked into it. I especially didn't want to do it when my sad, sick Smartling was clearly heartbroken that I was going without him. (More tears. I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.) But once it was in motion, I was so grateful for that push. Because it was awesome. And I did need that. And being in that giant celebration with people I love celebrating love and diversity and unity... well, it was healing. It reaffirmed my faith in humanity. It reminded me of all the good out there. It helped me remember that all the horrors we read about in the news and all the exhausting bullshit of my current life-pile are not all there is. There is so much more. And there's good. A lot of good. People are good. There is love.
And so, I say thank you to the Seattle Pride Parade. I am grateful for everything they do and represent and encourage. I am grateful that they make so many of us feel included and celebrated and together when we so often don't. And I am grateful that they pulled me out of my life just long enough to realize that everything is going to be okay.
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If you have a chance to go to a Pride Parade in your area, go. Celebrate. Feel the love. It's pretty damn incredible. There's good out there. And now... some Seattle Pride Parade just for you. Celebrate with me. Love wins.