I've been going to pride for so many years that I no longer recall when I originally started. Almost certainly either during high-school or immediately after. Back when I used to work on Sundays I'd get up early and see the parade before work, even if I had to leave half way through. Attendance was not something I considered optional.
Pride is one of my only touch points on the larger gay community. I've never been one to go to the bars or clubs. I've only been to one or two drag shows. I once saw Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at a special pride month showing. They're my people, but they're also not my people. It's a culture that feels at once familiar and alien. I love it.
Not even forecasted highs just shy of 100°F were going to stop me from heading up to see Sacramento's pride parade. Some friends were going to be in it, and if they could survive the march I could survive watching them march. I didn't even have to wear a fursuit.
When I get the chance to talk to younger gay men it seems like pride doesn't resonate with them the way it does to my generation. I hope that's because pride is a victim of its own success. They've never needed to hide who they were, so open expression doesn't feel like the celebratory relief it was when I was still in the closet. They've never lived in a world where they had to fear for their physical safety.
And yet, we still live in that world. As the Pulse shooting brought to mind all-too-cruelly just three years ago. There are people that will go to extremes to punish other people for the crime of loving. The crime of wanting to be happy. The crime of wanting to feel be accepted as a valid point on the continuum of human expression.
As much as pride may not resonate with some members of the younger generation, it feels more necessary than ever to come together, raise our fists to the sky, and scream.
We will not go quietly into the night.