It was about 10 years ago when I first stepped into Pulse, tipsy from a few hours of pre-gaming at my then boyfriend’s house. His roommate and best friend had just come out but was intimidated by the Orlando gay scene. He was still trying to find his place in all of it.
We spent the whole night trying to talk him into going with us, to no avail. So, we offered to go “check it out” for him and report back the vibe.
I know my place as a cis-straight ally, and I understand it’s not my turf. But the second I walked through the chain curtain doorway, I felt love. Every chasm, every hallway, every dance floor, was filled with pure joy and acceptance of every person under that roof.
We moved to the back bar where I saw the best drag show of my life. Sitting at the bar, watching my enthusiasm, was a cute, dark-haired man. We locked eyes and he danced his way over to me. His name was Tim. He was sweet, hilarious, just a little tipsy like me. He worked for Disney. We were both born in November. Funny enough, his partner Dave, had already started chatting up my BF at the bar. We all became fast friends. They were there for me when my grandfather died. I slept in their guest bed when my relationship ended. They were the last people I saw before moving to NYC.
I spent the remainder of my years in Orlando going to Pulse to make new friends, dance, drink, and feel loved.
What happened there 3 years ago is unimaginable to me. Not only because of its sheer horridness but because I had the best times of my life there. I was seen. I was respected. I was welcomed. I made life-long friends in that place.
The heartbreak of Pulse wasn’t just the tragic, unjust loss of 49 perfect, beautiful people. It was the permanent loss of an outlet that provided unconditional love and connection to a community that so desperately needed it. Even considering my privilege of being a white, cis-straight female, diverse safe spaces are so very rare and difficult to find.
Pride Month is important to celebrate not just for the LGBTQ community, but for EVERYONE. What we as humans can learn from Pride and LGBTQ community is that no matter how you choose to live your life, who you identify as, who you fuck, what job you do, none of that contributes to your worth or your capacity to love and be loved. People can be different from one another and still love each other. Respect each other. Support each other.
No one thinks about what they’ll miss when things are happening. Right now, as I write this thinking about those moments, I am weeping. I miss those times I felt like I belonged. I miss my friends in Orlando. I miss Pulse.
Happy Pride Everyone xoxo
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