I have celebrated Pride for many years in a row, at least 5 or 6. It’s such a wonderful, happy time in Seattle. There is beauty in people who have personally struggled coming together to celebrate being proud of who they are. The positive energy is enigmatic, contagious. The Pride Parade on Sunday has always been my favorite and every year I’ve gone feels as though it’s gotten larger.
Since Katie came out, I’ve discussed a few times with others that the “T” of LGBT seems out of place a bit. I want to caveat this conversation by saying I’m not educated on it and I have much to learn. I’m sure there are numerous articles and books on this that I haven’t read yet. That said, “T” is for Transgender, a gender identity, not a marker for who we love external to ourselves. Maybe it is my own naivety on the subject mater, my own lack of awareness amongst the privilege of my previously cisgender and hetero-normal relationships, but I’ve never seen the celebration of Pride so much as a space for gender expression being celebrated, but more for the battle over the right to choose who we want to love freely, without judgement or fear of repercussion. Who we love is part of our identity, yes, but to me this seems separate from our gender marker. My own lack of awareness of the transgender community before Katie came out is the only reason I firmly believe there is so much more work to do for Transgender equality in the world. I was a Human Rights minor and still didn’t know about this world I’m now in? How is that possible?
Not that I knew this pre-Outing, but part of the annual Seattle Pride celebration since 2013 has been Trans Pride. I really wanted to go this year, to see what it was like. I had low expectations for participation. How many people live in the Seattle-are who identify as transgender? How many of those people have people who support them and want to go to Trans Pride also? My Uncle and his partner Rhea were in town staying with us and all 4 of us (Katie, Mark, myself, and Rhea) went together. We got to the park just before the parade started. I was impressed by how many booths were there, everything from the Gay-Straight Alliance, to Microsoft GLEAM, to Lambert House. Katie and I have never seen so many trans-identified people in one space before.
As we wandered around, I really wanted to make sure we made it to the parade. I knew it was starting by Seattle Central Community College and I started to lead our group in that direction. As we walked, the crowd thinned and I started to wonder if I had my information wrong. Why was no one walking in our direction, toward the parade? When we got to Broadway, I started to hear a crowd chanting. Looking to the north, the street was filled with people, hundreds if not thousands of them! Tears filled my eyes as they came towards us, as I realized how many other people have walked the pathway Katie and I are walking now. I still can’t fully explain the feelings coursing through my body. As I joined the crowd to walk with them, I kept saying like a mindless idiot “This is so cool!” We turned the corner on Pine street to wrap around Cal Anderson park. As we approached 11th Ave E, I looked back to see how many people were behind us. People were still marching, wrapping the intersection of Broadway and Pine in a sea of Trans flags, signs advocating for Trans rights, and chants of equality. It was really incredible to see and be part of. It’s amazing to see that an event only happening for 5 years had that much participation and acceptance, that much love.
After the Parade, Katie and I stood to watch the remainder of the march file into Cal Anderson park. Many of these people have been judged by others, been harassed by friends, family, and strangers. Some of their parents don’t talk to them at all. They have been rejected for being different, for not conforming to an oppressive gender-norm that I now understand more than ever does not work for everyone. Yet, here they all are, proud to be who they are, surrounded by a community that supports them. It was inspiring, a moment I will never forget. I’m glad we got to experience our first Pride as members of the community, that we got to share it with others who support us. We are so lucky to have this life. Even in my most severe moments of doubt, I do believe that.