The cast of The Gayly Dose comment on evolving the gay experience forward here in the LGBTQ capital of the South. Bennett, Dante, and Helmut share their past, present, and future reflections while realizing just how precious Pride truly is.
Looking Back on Pride of the Past
I marched in the Atlanta Pride Parade before I even came out of the closet. At the time, I worked for a local radio station and was scheduled to march with our brand-new morning show. I remember feeling simultaneously excited to experience Pride, but also terrified. Questions were swirling around my head at 1,000 mph: Would being around other gay people out me? Was I scheduled to work that day because, on some level, my employer already knew?
After the march, the one thing I knew was this: the overwhelming support shown that day was a powerful force that encouraged me to finally make another step in accepting my sexuality.
Atlanta Pride showed me that even in a state that shows aggression toward our community, there is a sanctuary in our city. It showed me, even more than a decade ago, that I could be myself and still be loved and cherished by others and respected in the professional world. Today, I’ve coordinated corporate involvement in the parade for my company for the past four years. I do this for the kids who are hoping to find acceptance in the workplace even if they are LGBTQ.
Despite not having a parade or festival this year, there will be no shortage of pride in who we are. We have overcome numerous hurdles and challenges, and moving forward, there are so many milestones we have yet to achieve. The reason Pride is so precious is because there’s a certain spark you feel knowing that you are being celebrated for the thing that has possibly tortured you for some part of your life, especially in the South.
Pride is hosted to uplift a marginalized community and push us to our purpose of being communal in the way we love, uplift, and celebrate each other. Parade or not, we find ways to celebrate in our own special ways. Whether it’s congregating with your closest comrades or donating to an organization like Lost-n-Found Youth, it’s all done for the same purpose. For me, there is purpose in Pride and there is joy in the pride I have in queer people everywhere.
A Future Filled with Pride
As a parent, I have a built-in tie to the future that I often take for granted. Yet, as I contemplate the future of Pride, I think about how important it is to invest in chosen children. If you’ve watched episodes of Netflix’s “Pose,” you can easily see how the decisions and sacrifices of others have brought us so very far.
If we are allowed as individuals to self-actualize early in life and make decisions that do not have to conform to societal norms, we are able to experiment and learn quickly as a people. This enables our sector of society to innovate, create truly, and perfect new and progressive ways of existing. Our future Pride should continue to celebrate these advances and seek ways to integrate our best and brightest ideas into the rest of society. But this will not be easy. We will need to continue to focus ourselves on some key areas:
We must continue to press for true love and acceptance across race and letter in our community.
We must urgently seek intergenerational connections despite our biases. It is only through chosen children that we can pass down our learnings into the culture of tomorrow.
We must elevate our thinking beyond what simply lies in front of us. Being gay is MORE than your sexual orientation; it is a calling, an ability to focus ourselves on unique aspects of living, and it presents an opportunity to advance civilization.
We must acknowledge our place alongside the straight community. Our advances are lost if they are not balanced with the rest of the majority whose offspring will be our future.
Ensuring we balance our love for ourselves with our love for these others will keep Pride as something that pushes every human forward into a brighter, more brilliantly gay future!
Helmut, Dante, and Bennett are the voices of The Gayly Dose, an Atlanta-based podcast with an all-gay cast. Unique in its mission and follow-on format, weekly episodes are known for their real conversations — featuring real live guests — about things that matter to the community and their listeners. Purposefully candid and brutally honest, the cast speaks on a range of topics including monogamy, body issues, coming out, dating apps, and growing up gay in the church. Listen at thegaylydose.com.