This Utah Pride Weekend I danced for four days--not continuous, mind you, but because the opportunities were there. And in general, that's what the Pride celebrations are about. Pride is about engendering a new hope; it's about finding our voice as a community; and it's about coming together to be heard. It's about marginalized communities supporting one another and demanding representation and change. These are my people, this is one of my communities, and I want to be their voice, their hope, and an added impetus for change. So for the first time in my life I actually joined the Pride Parade. For the first time, I was no longer stealth, and in a sense, I was free to play while I made my willingness to represent known.
Once we begin to transition, we never really stop. Transitioning, growing, adapting, becomes a way of life. For someone who first transitioned mentally, then physically, I have actually been surprised at how far my transition has led me. When my body was complete, I had begun my transition into a dancer, and from there into a performing artist. Those transitions led me more deeply into transitions into an advocate and I find myself transitioning into someone who is ready to put herself out there as a beacon of hope and change, who wants to represent.
My four days straight dancing began with my American Tribal Style class on Thursday. During the day, I had a sudden epiphany to order Sophia 2016 buttons, because I wanted as many people as possible at Pride to know that another one of their own would soon be running. One of the new moves we learned was the chico 4-corner, and I knew right away that it was going to take time to learn to catch the cue in time to execute the move in sync.
Friday was my last performance for the time being with Zarandeo at The Jungle Show at Westminster College. I had finally made it to a venue where only professional troupes were allowed to perform, and I took advantage of every moment. With our faces all painted up, we did our African-fusion blend, and chased each other with spears across the stage between performance. It was great, and someday, when my schedule returns to a manageable level, I'll dance with them again.
Saturday I got my buttons about 10 am, and had a two-hour dance workshop at 2 pm with a lot of emphasis on slowing movement down and making it more expressionistic. After I spent a couple of hours catching up on hausfrau duties, I drove up to the Pride festival and handed out about 5 buttons while I talked with friends I saw there. I met up with Sandra Hollins and her husband David, a wonderful couple. Sandra is running for House Representative for the Rose Parks district and I hope she gets it.
Sunday morning found us on the Marriage Celebration float. We were going to walk the distance, but by the time we got to the staging area, my wife's knees were giving out, so we begged them to let us ride instead. Once we made it through the crowd of people lining the street, my wife and I headed back toward the beginning of the parade to greet other marchers as they came through, after first lining my wedding dress with Sophia 2016 buttons. We had enough people come up, ask me who Sophia was, and pick their button off my dress, that we had to reload my dress before heading back to the festival grounds.
Once at the festival grounds, I immediately saw people I knew, was stopped repeatedly throughout the day, and all 100 of the buttons made their way onto festival goers. I heard Juana Ghani playing around the corner and stopped by to just listen for awhile (I've danced with them in the past), thinking that they would just let me sit and enjoy the music while my friends and teacher danced, letting me abstain this time because I was in my wedding dress. The minute I dug into my purse, put on my zils, and started my usual zilling, my teacher came up with her zils and had me out doing ATS, including me trying to keep up with her on the chico 4-corner turns we were just learning in class on Thursday. This was my first ever public performance of ATS, and she was going so fast I was spinning. It was awesome! And doing this in a crowd of easily 500 watchers--wow! I had difficulties tripping over the long train of my wedding dress, though, and near the end of the song, I had to back out and catch my breath. Just as my wife and I were about to go back to walking the crowd, my friend Gene pulled me right back out to join the group of dancers! I danced til I was exhausted and slowly ghosted back to the crowd. There's a standing rule that if I show up at a Juana Ghani performance and Amina (my teacher) or Kairo (a good friend) are dancing, they will make me dance. I thought my wedding dress would exempt me this time, but obviously not! Gene also makes sure I share the space with him. Sometimes we need friends that encourage us to follow our hearts.
Eventually, I came across Charles Stormont's booth, and I vouched for him and his cause. I hit as many places as I could find and talked to as many friends as I could find, and generally had a fun time out there. My bid for 2016 seemed to be taken really well, and I am hoping that they get out and vote for Charles Stormont this year and me in 2016.
Because it's about hope. And when you have one of your own running, someone who knows what its like to not be listened to or taken seriously, someone who is gaining influence. you have hope, and you have pride.