I remember our first Pride. Kelly and I drove 2 1/2 hours from Monterey to San Francisco with a lesbian couple I knew from my summer job. I learned some important lessons that year:
- Staying for its entirety was too damn long to watch a parade
- Way more people I didn’t want to see naked took their clothes of than did those I wanted to see au natural
- Carl’s Jr. charges you to use their bathroom
- That wasn’t oregano in the little plastic bag the nice man offered to sell me
A couple of years later we actually marched in the parade. Again, I learned some really valuable lessons:
- No matter what the organizers say, the parade starts when the Dykes on Bikes say it does
- Drill teams and cheerleaders are fun and all, but they throw the pace way off
- Fundamentalist protestors have no sense of humor
- It’s still not oregano in the plastic bag
But the most important lesson I learned from Pride is that I wasn’t alone. There, marching alongside fabulous drag queens and butch SFPD officers, were gay dads. Those families always got the biggest cheers. That made me feel proud to be a gay man.
My parents have always instilled self pride in me. When I was growing up, Utah was a much more homogenous place – especially out in the burbs where we lived. So my mom and dad taught me to be proud of myself and who I was. I learned to be a proud American of Greek descent and Orthodox Christian.
As I grew older, this encouragement ensured I would be proud of the man I became: liberal, vegetarian, gay. I had to be proud because I didn’t know anything else.
And when you’re proud of yourself, other people naturally feel the same way too. Are my parents proud I’m a gay man? Well, “pride” isn’t the word they’d use, but they’re far from being ashamed of it either. Maybe a better word is “respect.” They respect the fact that I’m an openly gay man.
No, the only aspect of my life that they’re not proud of is my vegetarianism. They think it’s just plain goofy.
My goal with my sons is to be the kind of father who is proud of them completely. That’s why I’m trying to teach them to be proud of who they are, so they’ll understand that pride is a self nurturing – people are proud of you when you’re proud of yourself.
Every single day our kids give us a multitude of reasons, both big and small, to be proud of them. I hope Kelly and I give the boys plenty of reasons to feel the same about us.
Our world and society are changing fast, and so are general attitudes about LGBT people. This is an exciting time in which to live. And we’re all a part of this revolution. So my advice to you this Pride season is, well, be proud of who you are. Be proud you are a part of this dynamic community.
Whether you’re marching in the parade, cheering it on, or spending the day with friends, relish in the pride you see around you. We all deserve it.
Speaking of being proud, I want to thank everyone who voted in the FABBY Awards for honoring me as Best Columnist this year. Who’s Your Daddy is a labor of love and a testament to the joy I find in fatherhood. I am honored by your votes of confidence. Oh, and my parents and kids were very, very proud.