9.22.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
Comments: 1
Billy Manes

Billy Manes

How in the hell are we going to do this? That is the main remnant echo that stays between my ears having spoken to Orlando’s Come Out With Pride board over the last week. The frustration reads clearly on most faces.

Everybody talks about grief in different ways, and many people have yet to even fully process the June 12 massacre at Pulse. If it sounds like we’re harping on it, it’s because the world is watching, waiting to see how Orlando – a slight burg in the shadow of a castle – recovers. We are still in it. Now it’s reaching a different level, as grief does.

I’ve heard of legs buckling from some of our community’s stalwarts at that moment when they could finally exhale, I’ve heard of triumphs and tragedies, watched survivors walk (online, granted) for the first time since that fateful day. I’ve heard of celebrity and political engagement nearly often as I’ve heard of the anti-politic, the corporate celebration versus the grassroots. There is talk of lawsuits, however secondhand that talk might be. There’s also quite a bit of “Keep Calm” going on, because a roller coaster is indeed a roller coaster.

These are all ingredients that go into the soup that is Come Out With Pride 2016: careful, but not too careful; solemn, but not too solemn. It is, perhaps, the most difficult balancing beam this community has ever walked. How to throw a party when the streets are covered in tears? Well, that party is happening and happening soon: Oct. 8, to be more precise, and much of the week preceding it.

How, then, do we do this? Fortunately, most of us don’t have to make it happen. We just need to show up, laugh, cry and remember that this is a long path we’ve walked and we won’t see the word “Finish” until we are approaching the cliff of our own mortality. And though that sounds bleak, that’s exactly what the board at Come Out With Pride is dealing with exponentially in these seemingly never-ending days.

For me, though, Pride has always been about the struggle, both internal and fiscal. We didn’t climb here on the backs of fools; we got here because of the sheer tenacity of those preceding us: James Baldwin, Harvey Milk, Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, to name a few. None of those were ever comfortable shoulders, but they were necessary. This is why we fight. It’s also why, for every Pride in the last decade, I’ve been shocked into happy tears. When families are there supporting our rights, we know we’re getting there. When our own families are there supporting our rights, we know we’re getting there. We’re just not there yet.

Appearances can be misleading, something we’ve all learned from the last year of celebration leading to trauma. We thought we’d made it – though we knew we hadn’t made it in the workplace, in our leases, in some cake shops – but it turns out the fight is more necessary now than ever. We were thrown by the events of June 12, but we were not destroyed. In fact, it’s my hope that we’ve been recharged, rebooted out of a calm complacency and pushed back into the purpose, the real purposefulness, of equality. We will march. We will rise.

In this issue, you’ll find some of the background on Come Out With Pride and the struggle to keep it going this year. It couldn’t have been easy just four months out from an event; everyone involved knows, however, that June 12 was unimaginably difficult for those directly affected: the families, the survivors.

There have been some criticisms of the messaging Come Out With Pride has been sending post-Pulse – specifically the apolitical ones in a political season – but there are plenty of things to celebrate in our community, and our Pride. This year, the route has expanded to accommodate an expected 200,000 people; there’s a celebrity food event; the grand marshals will be your local politicians and your Pulse survivors on an equal level. That balancing beam is going to be tough to walk for all involved, but this parade should be a celebration of healing.

And after that, this parade should catalyze action on all of our parts. Actions like the Out & Equal Summit coming to Orlando the very same week, actions like celebrating our strongest advocates in the Tampa Bay area. You’ll find a little bit of all of that – and some politics – in this issue.

How in the hell are we going to do this? We just are.

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