My First Pride Story

It was a hot summers day in Denver, the year was 2005 and my 16 year old eyes were wide with excitement. Not only was this going to be my first pride, but I had secured a spot in the parade through friends. We had a yellow Camaro ready to roar through the cheers of thousands of people. And we had Spongebob. Yes, Spongebob. This was just after the news medias had outed the famous cartoon character, much to the delight of the world. When the floats and cars started to slowly pull forward, my heart was pounding with adrenaline. We chanted the theme song to that cartoon well over 100 times, getting members of the street to join in. We got high fives and cheers for our car and our mascot, people were laughing and dancing, holding theirs heads high and the thousands of smiles that greeted us were so contagious it was as though the energy would never run out. As I took a break with my fellow mascot on the back of a slow rolling camaro, he looked at me through his giant square yellow head and said- “Hop off!”

At least thats what I swear to this day I heard. Instead the two words were in fact, “Hang on!”

The yellow Camaro revved up and zoomed off at 20 mph to clear the distance between the float in front of us. They had lost one very important piece of cargo along the way. Me. I hit the black pavement with a loud THUD and enough momentum to keep me rolling until my face was directly in front of the tires of the car behind us. The simultaneous groan from the audience let me know they felt my pain. I very carefully eased my way off the pavement, pain throbbing throughout me. An audience of 100 plus people stared at me with shocked expressions. Embarrassed, hurt, and hot, the only thing I could think to yell was, “Its OK, because I’m gay!”

With that all the people within a quarter mile radius let out a cheer, as I limped off to my yellow Camaro.

It was an unforgettable experience, not only because of the scar on my arm, but because of the emotions from the people that flow through your entire being on that day. The ones that tell you how much they’ve been through to be standing there, the ones that tell you how much they’ve fought for, how much they will continue to fight for, how proud we all are of each other for coming together and celebrating one another. But most importantly, it was one of my best experiences because for the first time in my life, I felt I belonged somewhere. That I was home.

And I haven’t missed one since