I’m not going to lie; quarantine has been tough for me. I lost my job, my schedule was thrown into whack, and trips to see my long-distance partner kept getting delayed or cancelled entirely. It was a rough few months. Even though most of my hobbies are online, it was still a difficult and sudden transition. I felt like the ground had suddenly irrevocably shifted under my feet, and I’m still trying to find my balance.
Last year, for Pride, I volunteered to set up the festival. I taped up signs and guided vendors in the cold and rain. By the time Canalside opened up, though, the sun was shining. People came streaming in, brightly colored and smiling.
In years before, I went to various celebrations if I was in a city big enough. One of my favorite memories is walking with the Bi Task Force in NYC’s big pride parade. By the end, my feet ached, but I couldn’t stop smiling. My friend and I went to Big Gay Ice Cream, surrounded by fellow queers all celebrating with us.
There’s something so utterly magical about being in a crowd, where, for once, I’m part of the majority. Where people don’t look twice when I give my pronouns. When they know what my purple lipstick indicates. Even though crowds in general usually make me pretty anxious, I miss it. I’m mourning it, along with my usual life, my productivity, and stability. I don’t find a virtual pride to have that same warm, overwhelming feeling.
This year, I’m celebrating pride by spending time with my friends and my partner. We’re playing roleplaying games over Discord. I’m celebrating my history, and the history of the community. I’m standing in solidarity with other marginalized identities. I’m donating to Black LGBTQIA+ organizations. And I’m watching queer media, supporting queer artists.
Most importantly, I’m reminding myself of the world that I want to see—a world where every time I walk down the street, it’s like the feeling at Pride – warm, welcoming and freeing. And I’m going to do everything I can to make that world the one we live in.
El Bernatovicz lives on Grand Island with their family. They are an active participant in Nickel City Jews and currently in the process of converting to Judaism.