I am a proud gay man.
Last year I went to the Toronto Pride Festival. It was my second year in a row being at TO Pride and it was fabulous. We were situated on a street corner that intersected with one of the city's many trolley lines, so each time a trolley came along the parade stopped and the trolley floated along. My friends and I started shouting "trolley!" (like one might shout "car" when playing kickball in a not-so-busy street) and soon the crowd around us joined along. We got waves, horns, fingers and smiles thrown at us and took them all with appreciation and stride.
That night, I was sitting in my friend Jack's apartment, drinking a glass of vino verde getting ready to head out the Buddies in Bad Times (their history is amazing... you should check them out for a great whirlwind of queer Canadian theatre history). And it hit me.
It was June 28th, 2009.
Forty years earlier, men and women were arrested for being in a bar. Men and women were arrested for being themselves. For being Fabulous (it deserves capitalization).
Pride is fun. Pride month is summer, it's drinking on patios, outside parties, all-night raves and sexy men walking through the streets (side note: TD Bank in Toronto manages, every year, to find the most-toned, most-built, sexiest men to prance around in green speedos and hand out temporary TD Bank tattoos). I've been told more than once that Pride is "Gay Christmas."
But it's not. Pride is Gay Thanksgiving.
Thank you to the queens, drag or otherwise, who stood up. Thank you to the flamers, the femmes and the fairies. Thank you to those who came before. Thank you to those who fought but fell to GRID (when it was called that) and AIDS (when it came around). Thank you to the partners who stood by their side when they were told they couldn't and they shouldn't and did anyways. To the partners who stood by their side when given no explanation when there was none, and even when there was.
Thank you to the men and women who came before me. Who stood up for yourself and more importantly to be yourself. Thank you to each and every man I will never meet. To every woman who got lost in her eyes instead of his. To every confused he or she who desperately wanted -- no, needed -- to be a her or him. Thank you to my Marys, my friends of Dorothy, my family.
Thank you to every man, every woman, every person who fought for their right to love and be who they are. I, and my generation, owe you more than we could ever possibly say, and I hope a humble "thank you" can suffice.
Thank you. Because of you, I am a proud gay man.