Monday, June 13, 2016

Personal Prerogative: Stay Proud

On Saturday morning, I was given the opportunity to host Indiana Talks coverage of the Cadillac Barbie IN Pride Parade. I didn't really know that I'd also be emceeing the event.

From the corner of Alabama and Mass Ave, I sat for nearly two hours watching the parade go by and describing the action to the listeners and those gathered to watch the event unfold.  I was struck by the amazing display of diversity in not only the parade but the crowd.

I was tired, so I spent most of the rest of Saturday recharging.  I went to bed around 11:30 pm feeling good about society, and I felt very proud of my city.  I felt a sense of PRIDE that I had never felt before.  This was me stepping WAY outside of the closet for the first time.  It's as comfortable as I've ever felt in my own skin.

I woke up around 7:30 am Sunday morning and fired up the computer to see when the IndyCar race would begin on Sunday afternoon after the rainout on Saturday night.  That's when I came across the reports of a mass shooting in Orlando at a nightclub.

As we all know by now, a gunman burst into the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and snuffed out the lives of at least 50 as I write this.  More fight for their lives in the hospital.


It was such a juxtaposition for me.  The outpouring of love I saw at Indy Pride on Saturday and the account of hate we were all forced to deal with on Sunday.  The two opposite emotions that are so often tied together on display within hours of each other.

If you are not LGBTQ, it's hard for me to explain what that's like.  What I can say is that there are places that you go that you let your proverbial hair down and feel free to be whoever it is you really are.  Some of us don't get that luxury.  All-in-all, I'm pretty lucky.  I haven't always been, though.  There was time that I was afraid in my own skin of who I was.  One of the only places I could feel normal and accepted were clubs.

Now, I'm not a clubkid, and I don't want to give you that impression.  There was a time, though, that I'd go to a club quite often to kick back, relax, and enjoy being myself or with my significant other.  No one stared or looked when I held hands, and it is a free feeling that's hard to explain.  Some have called it a "sanctuary" or safe place.  Indeed, it was.

Well, that sanctuary was attacked by a hate-filled man.  While there is time to grieve and time to pray for the recovery of those who survived, there's also a time to make sure no other hate-filled men or women can do this sort of thing again.

That's going to take some heavy lifting in Congress, and I don't want to be political today.  I'll just say that the time to act on common sense gun control reform is now.

Truth is that just like so many tragedies that we've heard about that there are harrowing stories of survival and people banding together to save others in the Pulse Nightclub.  I'm sure by the time you read this there might be even more information out there.

We are going to make it through this as a country.  Let's wrap our hands and arms around those that need us.  Continue to be vigilant but not fearful.  Most of all, stay proud.

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