This piece is a part of the Harry Potter Alliance’s series for Pride 2017, exploring issues and perspectives from the LGBTQ+ community related to Pride. To find out more about the Harry Potter Alliance and how to get involved, visit thehpalliance.org.
The picture of Pride is one of color, life, music, noise, laughter and numerous amounts of people coming together to celebrate. It’s a place of excitement and freedom. A physical section of a city that gets to teleport to another world for a short time. To many people, Pride is the first opportunity to escape an area that does not understand or accept them. It is the first chance to be completely and purely yourself, affirming who you know you are.
That is how it can appear to many people, but to me, and many like me, Pride was an event I feared I would drown in. For as long as I can remember, anxiety has been a part of my life, and has had a say in every decision I make. Including my decision to go to my first Pride. In my regular day-to-day life I have a well-established habit of avoiding events like Pride, where I am surrounded by noise and crowds of people I don’t know. When I was nineteen, however, this event was an exception I wanted desperately to make.
Overtime, I’ve been able to slowly desensitize myself to events like Pride, but that first parade was fairly daunting. If not for my friends and boyfriend around me, I wonder if I would have been able to do it. When I was around people I felt comfortable with, I was able to watch the parade and take a step back from where I was. It allowed me to watch as if I was watching it on tv at home because I was able to let go of any worry of who I was standing with or what the people around me were thinking. For me, it was important to go to my first parade with people I knew.
The parties afterwards had the same overwhelming feeling I built up in my head. Pride was my second time ever going to a club, and the first time didn’t exactly go according to plan. Let’s just say I “felt sick” and had to go home early. Pride has certainly garnered a reputation for outrageous parties, but not everyone can get used to them by diving in head first. My first night of Pride wasn’t spent in a club but at my then boyfriend’s apartment, with a couple of friends hanging out and decompressing after a hectic first day. Taking the time to relax and not overwhelm myself with a first day packed full of events was perfect for me. When I finally did take the plunge into my first Pride club event, it wasn’t right after a busy day watching the parade, but after a day of small events and lots of good food. Looking back, I think that quiet night with friends having a few drinks and relaxing after a good day was my favorite part of my first Pride week.
For me, Pride was a mix of all of the genres of events that scared me. It was hard to focus on its potential to be a place to affirm who you are and who you love when all I had my mind on was anxiety. So, I took it slow. I took each event one day at a time. I made sure that wherever I was I was with people I knew and felt comfortable with. Even without going with friends you’d be surprised how many you can make during Pride week. Some are just there to party, but, in my experience, the people who enjoy Pride most are the ones who remember the welcoming and open atmosphere it is meant to create, including to those many people who are experiencing it for the first time.
If you are like me and are afraid to experience Pride because of the crowds, noise and close quarters remember this: Pride isn’t just the parade and it isn’t just in the clubs. It’s about the people you choose to spend your time with and open up to, whether those people are the people you surround yourself with at the parade, spend evenings with, or the new friends you make there. My fondest Pride memory is having a few drinks in my friend’s apartment, watching some random movies and enjoying being unapologetically and happily myself. Find the part of Pride that works for you, and enjoy yourself. Your real self.
Alex Condie is an aspiring writer in Canada, exploring fantasy worlds and real life issues while he stays warm and tries to overcome the mental pull of his not always helpful favorite animal: the sloth.