I want to be the first to wish you all Happy Pride!
I remember the very first time I heard that from a gorgeous drag queen. It was my very first Pride parade. I had ventured to San Francisco, I was still in the closet, and I was dodging news cameras for fear that my parents would spot me on television when I stumbled upon that very tall, luxurious and beautiful drag queen with pink hair. She turned to me and said “Happy Pride Sweetheart!” And I felt so good hearing that greeting. It meant so much to me at that time and every time that I hear it. I felt included and dignified. It made me realize that this was more than just an ‘in your face’ spectacle of gayness. Rather, Pride had turned into a holiday that celebrated LGBT people from all walks of life and displayed the respect we have for ourselves and our community. I saw Pride month and specifically, the Pride parade as our community’s way of showing that we take pleasure in our life and that we want to share it with the world.
This year is the fortieth anniversary of the San Francisco Pride parade. Forty years ago this month, a “Gay-In” took place and began what has now become the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration. Today, our Pride parade has been emulated in countless cities throughout the world. Without a doubt, participating in my very first Pride parade in the year 2000 and every year thereafter has given me the opportunity to express myself as a proud lesbian. And I have seen through the eyes of spectators and other participants, the joy, the unity, and the pride this parade invokes. For 40 years, the LGBT family has been able to educate the world, honor our past, grow stronger, and inspire individuals within and outside our community.
I strongly believe that our monthlong Pride celebration creates a kind of momentum to be out, to be different…to be ourselves. Each year it gets bigger, more fun, and more people attend. That’s powerful and life-changing for all of us. With each Pride month since that first ‘gay-in,’ anti-LGBT discrimination has decreased (albeit slowly), we have a diversity of LGBT organizations that cater to almost any facet of life, gay marriage is finally a possibility, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is on the verge of repeal, and we are recognized and acknowledged in the media. We have come a long way, the streets are marked with our flags, companies are giving us benefits that we deserve, and people generally have respect for us. It’s like we’re taking over the world.
I love saying “Happy Pride” to everyone! I say it to all of my family, co-workers, my landlord, and whoever is around. It’s my opportunity to show my pride and to inspire people around me to join in the celebration and express themselves. I really feel unstoppable and confident to be me when I say “Happy Pride.”
Though, we have more work to do, each Pride parade, each Pride festival, and each “Happy Pride” brings us closer to our goals.
This year, I look forward to seeing you at Alice’s Pride Breakfast on June 27th so that I can personally say “Happy Pride!” to you, my dear friends and colleagues. Join me as we celebrate a momentous occasion, 40 years of being proud of being part of the most amazing and strongest of communities…the LGBT community.
Bentrish Satarzadeh, Co-Chair
Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club