This past weekend we were able to take in Mid-South Pride in Memphis. These are five different accounts from different sets of eyes. Each story will be different but one thing is for sure, the message of love.

My Tale of Pride by Kristi Morgan

14459886_10209764637453699_468859946_nSaturday was another first for me I was invited to go to Memphis Pride with a close group of friends. I was not sure what to expect but I could not wait to get there and start this fun journey. When we arrived it was a sea of wonderfully dressed people and rainbows everywhere. It was beyond AWESOME!!!! Everyone was so nice and they were giving out hugs to everyone in trade for beads. It was in one statement ” a big sea of love “. And to top off the day they had one of the most spectacular parades I have ever had the pleasure of attending. All in all, I had a most wonderful time and cannot wait till I have the humble opportunity to attend another pride.

 

My Tale of Pride by Ashlee Morgan

1469794_10151793466522183_137476867_nThis past weekend marked a pretty wonderful event for me. I got to enjoy my first experience at Pride. It was an amazing opportunity to see a group of people coming together and just genuinely enjoying life. No matter what you looked like, who you liked, or how you identified, there were similar people to meet. It was simply astounding to see all of the people that society normally shuns, being out together in an amazing and colorful display and slaying in every possible way. Hugs, love, and beads abounded.

And sure, there were a few dissenting opinions. At two entrances to the park there were what can only be referred to as ‘street preachers’ with megaphones and signs, screaming that everyone was going to Hell and you are a terrible parent for bringing your children to such a Godless place. They were neither impressed nor swayed when event goers quoted scripture back at them. But boy were they quick to smile and pose for pictures with Hell bound people! Even with the “Christian” hatred from outside, the number of churches there supporting the even was much higher than I expected. They were all so nice and much better informed about things than I would have previously believed. And more than one of them had papers inviting people to come to services. It was more surprising to me than I am willing to admit that so many people from these local churches took the idea of loving everyone so seriously.

Then there was the parade, which is arguably the center of any Pride. And they absolutely killed it!! Every float and marching group was original in theme and presentation. Everyone was all smiles and interacting so well with the crowd. And don’t even get me started on the free candy and condoms being thrown to onlooker. I’m honestly sure I have never seen so many pretty colors or flavors of condoms before.

But in the end, all of the wonderful things I felt and saw were a shadow of the pure joy I felt at seeing someone so close to me finally being accepted and feeling comfortable in their own skin. To see the unadulterated happiness of being free to express the person they truly are. I cannot wait for the day that the kind of acceptance they found in that amazing group of people is what is expected and given by everyday people.

My Tale of Pride by Katie Brewer

pride2My very first PRIDE could not have gone better. I can’t put into words all the love and acceptance I felt that day and have felt since. I couldn’t have gone with a better group of girls either. Sharon, Ashlee, Kristi, and Rebekah: THANK YOU so much for being there with me and making sure I didn’t go to jail and holding my hand so I didn’t wander off. Friday before PRIDE, I officially came out via Facebook post on National Bi Visibility Day so that made this PRIDE so much more special to me. I had been wanting to come out for quite some time. I am married to a man; I have children, but none of that takes away from my sexuality. I have had some people in my life speak out again me since I made my announcement, some have talked about me behind my back but there at the festival, no one knew I had led a life for 27 years as a CIS gender female. I had no judgement passed on me. No one called me a “fake”. It was freeing. It was a perfect weekend. We finished up the day after the parade, which just like the festival was amazing especially when Ole Miss’s LGBTQ association came through and we chanted HOTTY TODDY together! I can’t wait to go to more events in the future. I think the best part was the company I had. I’m the luckiest girl in the world with the best friends.

 My Tale of Pride by Sharon Isom

pridekatieThis was the first time that I have ever had the opportunity to attend a Pride celebration. When we walked into the park, I immediately noticed the atmosphere. It was something that I had never experienced before –feeling of love for everyone. No one cared who you were or what your orientation was. You were a person. Therefore, you deserved love and respect. The end. Nothing else mattered. I received so many hugs and compliments. I did a video for Planned Parenthood about why the wellness care and sexual education services that they provide are so important. I watched in wonder at the performers. I admired the stunning transgender women. I loved that there were straight people who brought their children. I played in a drum circle which was amazing. I felt that I was included and belonged with these amazing people. After looking at all of the booths and meeting people, it was time for the parade. I sat beside Kristi and Katie (one of my best friends and co-host of The Wino’s). I cannot even explain the feelings that I experienced during the parade. It was so overwhelming. At one point, Katie turned to me and caught me crying. We have come so far in our battle to obtain equal rights for the LGBTQ community but we are still so far away from making it happen. I want my children to live in a world where being gay, bi, or transgender is no big deal. Announcing one’s sexuality should not be a fearful event but a celebration.

My Pride Experience by Rebekah Paige Pruitt

I sit tonight reflecting over this past weekend and reliving the day over and over in my head. On Saturday, we were able to travel to Memphis for Mid-South Pride. I have always been in a part of the LGBTQ community in some capacity. It was one event that I have been looking forward too for the past months when decided that attending was an option. I was up before the sun, and if you know me, that is a rare occurrence. I wanted to make sure that make up looked good, and was able to last the day ahead due to the heat. It was the first time I was able to be around my entire group of people and it went off without a hitch.

The nerves were shooting through my body as we loaded in the car and started to drive to Memphis. I could feel my heart in my throat. I had no idea what to expect from anyone; how were people going to react to me? The car is parked and the moment has arrived to start walking towards the park. Once the door was shut, the nerves slowly started going away to be replaced by smile. For the first time in 32 years, I was able to be me. I was able to say that I fit in. The compliments of people all day on the dress I was wearing, receiving a ton of hugs, and being able just to take it all in was an experience that I will never forget. We walked around checking out booth after booth. The love was contagious, I just wanted to hug everyone.

The first time I was ever to take in a Pride Parade left me speechless. I still can’t explain the feeling that overcame my body seeing people take part in something and be so happy in their own skin. Something that I have been struggling with for years. The parade was one of those experiences that will be replayed over and over in mind for years.

14463869_10209762379757258_193148796_nPride was such a wonderful event, and it is difficult to leave me speechless over something, but this event did it. I am still smiling. But there is one moment that will outweigh all of it for me. And that was getting to be myself around the woman I love, and the people I call my family. I do not talk about the fact that I struggle with Gender Dysphoria and have since the age 4. However, this family knew how much this weekend meant to me and being able to take it in in the clothes that match the mindset was liberating. The first time one of my friends called me by my name, I wanted to cry. It may have been a good thing that I bought the waterproof mascara. The first time someone called me by my name that I didn’t know, I got chills. Pride was the first step in me opening a door that I have been afraid to open. I have always worried what people were going to think. Well, I don’t think that is the case anymore and it has taken me 32 years to admit that I am transgender.

It didn’t take long while I was there to purchase the transgender flag. I realized that I do not need to be ashamed of who I am. It is going to be a long process, and there will be a lot of bumps in the road. But with the woman I love, and my newly found family, it will be worth it. If you have never taken in a Pride event, you really should. There is something for everyone. It truly is a family event.

These five stories come from the eyes of someone who is straight, pansexual, bisexual, questioning, and transgender. Spread the message of love.