For the first time ever, the pride parade will travel down King Street and through the heart of Charleston, SC. This is a big deal, and I feel honored to be able to ride along on a float. Like many people, I had a gay uncle, a fact that I never knew until I was 16. Not to say I didn’t know; it just wasn’t an issue. Uncle Carr and Alan were family.
Carr was my mothers baby brother and the most amazing man I knew as a small child. His house was full of interesting collections and spectacular furniture. They had the best Christmas parties. Alan spent weeks decorating a tree that reached to the top of their 14 foot ceilings. Each limb was hand wrapped with its own strand of lights. It was a sight to see, and they beamed as their house filled with their friends and family.
Carr passed away the day before my 16th birthday. Alan passed just a few years later. This year marks 20 years since I have seen his face and held his hand. He missed the premiere of Philadelphia by months, and in doing so missed my realization that he was different. I witnessed a love between these two men with no preconceived notions. The thought that they deserved less was beyond me.
Carr’s death and Philadelphia cemented my place as an advocate for the LGBT community from that day forward. Which brings me back around to why tomorrow is such a big deal. I will be joining my lovely friends from We Are Family on their float tomorrow during the pride parade. I will be just feet away from Rita Taylor, the godmother of gays in Charleston, as she ushers in the first downtown Pride. This is history. This is the right side of history. This is something my uncle never got to see. Gay marriage will be legal throughout the states soon, and we have everything to do with it. Stand tall, stand proud.
Tomorrow, both of my uncles will be watching me from the clouds as I wave at the onlookers and support my friends and family. Some are out and proud. Some are still closeted and proud. And some still are closeted and scared. I’m coming out for you. Straight but not narrow. So this weekend take time out of your day to hug a gay. Tell them you stand with them and show your own pride.