Stumbling upon acceptance: how the Pride Parade changed my outlook
Have you ever stumbled upon an event that changed your perspective forever? That was the Pride Parade for me.
But why did I need it?
I grew up in Italy, a Catholic Country, with a strong sense of traditional family. Usually, our grandmothers are concerned with imparting our culinary values; their classical sentence is:
“It doesn’t matter what you do, just eat”.
For many years of my life, I didn’t care at all about anything that might be different from this traditional life. But when I was forty, I started working with a gay employee. I didn’t know he was gay, as he didn’t come out. During the years we spent together in our office, I understood he was living with another man, who was his partner. But up to that moment, I hadn’t done anything to show him that he was my friend. A dear friend, whomever he was in love with.
I recently read a story by Ryan Ehrhardt where he explains that his coming out experience wasn’t the glamorous moment often depicted in movies. On the contrary, he tells how he felt judged and even frightened when he dared to show up in a pink shirt.
I felt sorry for him, but I was pleased to remember that this Summer, I walked in the Pride Parade.
To be completely honest, I just arrived there by chance. I was spending my Summer in Vancouver, and during that period, the town was celebrating Pride Week. It’s a time of the year when you can find pins, wristbands, and other items with rainbow colors. Restaurants and bars are decorated in the same way …It’s nice to see all these colors around.
At the end of the Pride Week, the Pride Parade takes place.
It reminded me of what a couple of friends had told me some months before. The Company they work for had invited all the employees to join the Parade in Milan. This Company is actively promoting workplace values of acceptance, inclusivity, and support. My friends told me that they joined the Parade, and they were surprised by the order, harmony, and happiness they found there. It had nothing to do with any kind of rally we had in Italy, that generally ended in a riot. They told me that it had been an experience they would love to repeat, even without their Company’s encouragement.
So, when I saw the Parade marching along the Sea Wall while I was returning home from a walk in Downtown Vancouver, I decided to join in.
The parade was an explosion of color, with rainbow flags billowing in the breeze, people adorned in vibrant costumes, and their faces painted with joy and self-confidence.
While walking there, I was delighted by the many smiling faces, people who just walked happily, because they felt safe and appreciated for being themselves. They were celebrating freedom for everyone and people’s unique identity. Have you ever had one of those moments where you realize you’ve been seeing the world through a narrow lens?
It was as if a veil had been lifted, revealing a world I’d been oblivious to: I felt accepted for being myself. I didn’t wear any rainbow color, I hadn’t any evident sign of my penchants, I was just a woman walking there. I loved that everyone could show up there, being themselves, with no prejudice. In my case, being a white, blonde, heterosexual, middle-aged woman was fine. Even more: being myself was something worth celebrating, as it was for everyone else there.
It wasn’t a matter of accepting diversity, it was just a matter of accepting life, with its full range of colors and shades. I felt that we were manifesting that every life matters.
People in the Parade were doing exactly the opposite I had imagined: they weren’t standing up for the LGBTQ+ community, they were showing support to everyone. They were supporting me. They were telling me that I hadn’t to be afraid as a woman, no matter how I felt like to live my femininity. I hadn’t to feel inclusive: we were already included in a human community.
That day at the Pride Parade, I didn’t just witness a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. I witnessed a celebration of humanity in all its diverse glory. And you know what? It was beautiful.
So, I’m happy I learned a lesson about inclusivity, which means I am part of the greatest community. Now, as I’m approaching my older age, I wish to find the same wisdom of the Italian grandmothers. One day, I want to have the wit to tell my grandchildren:
“it doesn’t matter if you are gay, just eat.”