Growing up barred from all things gay (Target and Ellen included), I found myself never getting into the Pride spirit. Even attending the University of Iowa did little to uplift my inner doubt and hesitation, when it came to presenting myself as a gay man, especially an African-American gay man. Many have unnecessarily informed me that others can taste the rainbow when I come near, but being “visibly” gay doesn’t make it any easier to open your mouth and say the words, to be self-confident in this drab world.
Pride, however, drapes the world in a curtain of color. Rose-colored glasses over my eyes, every June I get to reunite with the memory of my former, sheltered self … and then kick its butt. All I see is love (is love), and all I feel is validation, appreciation, and community, contrasting with my former feelings of disappointment, fear, and anger. I’ve only taken part in three Pride fests in my life, but each has made its blow upon my memories of shame. Every flavor of person comes out, often metaphorically and literally, to celebrate Pride.
But even within a marginalized community like the LGBTQIA+, there are still factions. As a brown gay man, sometimes I am made to feel that for the rainbow to be beautiful, it must remain: ROY G BIV, white American male, athletic build, masc for masc. Sickly views of beauty pervade even the tightest community of loving individuals in a snap judgement. However, during Pride, petty preferences are set aside, and the beauty of the LGBTQIA+ community shows through love. Love among family, friends, and partners. My shame and doubt of love in the community is kicked to the curb, and the party goes on.
In the aftermath, the rose-colored glasses come off. I begin to see the hues of prejudice replace those of Pride, bringing with them ROY G BIV to kick my scrawny butt out of the rainbow. Every year, Pride serves as a catalyst for joy, expression, and fulfillment, but also as a reminder of how much more work needs to go into loving every color of the rainbow.
— Philip Runia