I’m nearly 34. This has been my first year being open with myself about being bisexual. Before this year, I’d never attended Pride. I let social anxiety stop me from showing up as an ally.

I almost let that anxiety get the better of me this year. I wanted to attend more than ever, because I wanted to celebrate what I’d spent the previous months discovering and embracing. But anxiety. Fortunately, two people who care about me knew how to convince me it to attend.

Saturday the rain chased all the people away. This worked for me. I spent the evening dancing alone at the stage at The Forks. I’m not happy it rained – one of the two people who talked me into going was unable to attend as a result. But I am happy that I was able to have so much fun.

Sunday was different. During the rally, I sat in the shade by myself. Janine Brown’s poem brought tears to my eyes; it hit close to home. I didn’t realize how many people were amassing behind me, preparing to march. Eek! Scary! From then on, I kept my hands in my pockets. My eyes down. My mouth closed. It took all my energy to not run away.

I stayed that way through the parade. But it was an amazing experience. I couldn’t bring myself to interact with a single person. Not even a “hi” to the people I was marching beside. But seeing the crowds who showed up to support, to celebrate, to accept… I’m just still filled with so much confidence in who I am.

I regret not going years ago to provide that same message to others. I’m so incredibly thankful to the people who have been, so that I could have that experience myself.