At the end of June, I flew more than 1,000 miles to visit family in my hometown of New Castle, Indiana. New Castle is a small, old factory town that moves at a pace a bit slower than the rest of the world around it—both physically and socially.
Honestly, I dreaded being back in my hometown for a week with no queer outlet. But, luckily for me, New Castle was hosting its first ever Pride. The single-day, all-ages event was held inside a small country bar called The Roadhouse. Of course, I went and took my younger siblings.
The bar was packed with queer people. Two-thirds of the crowd were our queer youth. For them, in that small, backwards town, New Castle Pride was their first exposure to queer life. I watched as they gathered at the front of the stage with cell phones and dollars ready for the drag show. I heard them squeal in excitement whenever a queen hit the floor in a death drop; I had forgotten how those Indiana queens bring the choreo to every performance. I almost died when my 11-year-old sister, who decided to wear a cape, screamed into the sky, “I love drag queens!”
That Pride, as small as it was, filled me with the most pride I’ve felt in a long time.
I have grown accustomed to feelings that Denver’s PrideFest gives me. After four years, PrideFest still re-energizes my queer soul, but it is the smaller celebrations that embody the true meaning of Pride.
It’s been said time and time again, but for reiteration: Pride began as a protest. Angry queers who were tired of persecution took a stand and said, “Enough is enough.” The young queers in these small or conservative cities that cover themselves in glitter, wrap flags around their necks, destroy the gender binary, and bravely stand in the face of adversity carry the same energies given off by Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson.
We here at OUT FRONT want to carry on that tradition at the second annual Aurora Pride. Come out, take a stand, and show these young Aurora queers what Pride is all about. I’ll see you there.