My kids were still little the first time I took them to a Pride event. Someone in our mom’s group mentioned that a pet parade and a Pride parade were taking place that weekend and would we like to go. Always looking for something fun to do with my three kids, I said, “Yes.”
I remember how hot it was that day and the kids asking if the dogs in costume for the pet parade had enough water (like a million times) and my oldest thinking that she hit the jackpot catching candy during the Pride parade. I’m sure we only spent a couple hours downtown, but it was enough that the kids talked about the experience for days.
We made a handful of trips to the East Village in the years after, but as they grew up, the kids found other summer activities to keep them busy that weekend.
Then, in June 2019, I took the kids to New York City. We’d never been—the four of us—and we had a blast seeing the sites, taking in a Broadway show and celebrating my daughter’s 13th birthday.
We’d been in New York just a few hours when we heard that it was Pride week in NYC and that millions of people worldwide would soon converge on the city to recognize the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. Rainbow flags were EVERYWHERE and the feeling of unity and love was all around us. It was an amazing place to be celebrating Pride.
I remember seeing the kids’ reactions to all of this. My oldest, the birthday girl, was having the time of her life. She was loving everything about NYC Pride and she couldn’t stop talking about it. She was positively beaming.
As I look back on that week in New York, I realize that it was a transformational experience for my daughter. She was truly happy that week and not just because of the love around her but because she finally felt love for herself.
It would be nearly a year before she would come out to me. When she did, she asked if I knew she was gay. I did and seeing her experience Pride at one of the most pivotal times in her life was one of the reasons I knew. I remember thinking that she was so happy because Pride, and seeing others like her, felt like home.
As a parent and member of the Capital City Pride board, I’ve been asked a lot lately about whether PrideFest is “kid-friendly.” It totally is and not just because we have a youth silent disco, a pet parade, a kid zone, drag queen story time and a rainbow safari. It’s kid-friendly because love is love and kids of all ages can celebrate that no matter their sexual orientation.