For me, the Pride parades and festivals are special this year because I am coming out as bisexual.
I’ve been married to my wife for almost thirty-eight years. I love, cherish, and enjoy her and I’m not about to change my lifestyle.
I am moved to speak openly about myself for all the reasons that Pride month matters.
Pride means self-knowledge and self-acceptance. When my parents passed away a couple of years ago, I finally did the personal work to understand, accept, embrace, and name the breadth of love and desire that is part of who I am.
There is a particular stigma that attaches to bisexuality – it suggests inconstancy. On the contrary, bisexual people form enduring monogamous relationships just as other people do. But in those relationships they are not visible as bisexual.
Pride also means openness. Openness and self-acceptance go hand in hand. One can accept oneself privately, but self-acceptance becomes more robust when one can share oneself with family and friends. My wife and daughters, above all, have been wonderfully supportive to me.
The vibrant open celebration of diversity in a Pride parade helps everyone accept themselves. Through the years, society has been so cruel to queer people that it’s necessary to take openness to the level of boisterous celebration to create a broader social space in which everyone can find themselves and thrive.
Marching in Pride parades as an elected official, as I have done annually for many years, makes a statement that matters a lot. Being an ally in a pride parade means committing one’s reputation to the civil principles of acceptance.
But marching as elected and queer makes an even stronger statement. It says: please don’t just accept me, but please honor who I am and also respect what I stand for in public life.
Knowing myself now as queer, I absolutely felt that I had to be out in the parades. Failing to do so would be freeloading on the courage of others.
I thank the same-sex couples who came into my office to advocate for equality of marriage, the transgender people who testified in hearings in support of legislation to protect them from discrimination, and many others who have approached me through the years to advocate on LGBTQ+ legislative issues. To all of them I am grateful for their social leadership but also for unknowingly helping me on my own journey.
It would be wrong to say that Pride matters now more than ever. The early Pride celebrations took real physical bravery and shattered long-standing barriers to queerness in many parts of the world. But with the resurgence of archaic hatreds, legitimized by all too many political leaders, Pride matters a lot in 2023.
To all, Happy Pride!
Thank you so much to all who have sent support. I’ve received an outpouring of loving correspondence. I haven’t responded to each comment below, but please know that have read them individually and that I am personally and deeply grateful to each person who has spoken in support.