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Meet Me at the Pride Parade

I was all set for this year’s pride parade. My hair was curled, my nails painted blue, pink and white to represent the transgender flag.

I even had new shoes with the same color scheme. We were in New York City and this was going to be the biggest pride event ever. It has been a month I will never forget. So much has happened. There was Orlando, which was on all of our minds. I have also been dealing with crippling dysphoria for weeks now and had been unable to shake it. The truth is I have been feeling a little lost. I have not been able to get out of my own way. I was searching for answers, a sense of purpose, a reason to exist.

“IT WAS THE FIRST PLACE I WENT TO AS THE REAL ME. IT WAS THE FIRST PLACE WE WENT OUT TO AS A LESBIAN COUPLE.”

My wife and I finished getting all dolled up in our pride gear and headed straight to the Stonewall Inn. The place has so much meaning to us. Not only the birthplace of a movement, but my own birthplace. It was the first place I went to as the real me. It was the first place we went out to as a lesbian couple. It is also the end of the parade route, the best place to be because of all the fun that goes on there. We had friends coming in from all over the place and we were all going to meet up at some point. At least that was the the plan.

We had a quick drink and headed outside the Stonewall as the parade was approaching. The energy in the crowd was amazing. We were all dancing and chanting about everything, be it for those we lost in Orlando or someone in the parade who was coming by us. We saw Jazz Jennings as one of the Grand Marshals. There was the Mayor of New York City, Bill DeBlasio, Hillary Clinton, Governor Cuomo and Senator Chuck Schumer with his bull horn rallying the crowd. We saw the cast of Orange is the New Black. There was a whole contingency for Orlando. The place was buzzing. There were millions of people. Suddenly the thoughts that were bringing me down started to cease. We were lost in the moment. Everyone was having a great time, supporting each other. No one was judging anyone.

Though some of our friends were unable to reach us through the huge crowds, eventually most of us were able to meet up. For some of them, it was their first NYC Pride parade. For the rest of us we marveled at how far this movement has come. What used to be a much smaller event is now this huge happening. We now have politicians, TV stars and large corporations at the Pride parade. The police who back in the day were once against us, were now there for us in full force. There were police officers at every corner, helicopters above us, all of them trying to keep us safe.

“WHERE I WAS FEELING LOST BEFORE I NOW FELT A SENSE OF PURPOSE, A SENSE OF PRIDE.”

We had dinner with our friends and celebrated into the late hours of the night. I looked around realizing how lucky I am to have these people in my life. My month long bout with dysphoria seemed to be now coming to the end. Where I was feeling lost before I now felt a sense of purpose, a sense of pride. I realized I am part of something that is much bigger than myself. I am part of an amazing community and we won’t stop until we all achieve equal rights. Our movement is getting bigger with each passing year and there is no doubt in my mind that we will get there one day. I realized I have to do my part in all of this. Though I may have lost myself for a moment, I was able to get through it. I was able to find myself at the pride parade.

Stay safe and keep fighting for all of us!

Love and peace,

Mila Madison

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