Monday, July 1, 2013

Pride, Joy, and Mourning

Another Pride has come and gone. As with every year, the youth are getting younger and I am getting older. For this, I am both grateful and full of mourning.

I am grateful to see young people coming into their own bodies, desires, and expressions in a world that is a bit more welcoming (and for some, affirming) than the world I came of age in. I am grateful. I am grateful to be alive to see them come of age, to watch them mad-dash into their queerness when I was barely taking baby steps at their stage. I am grateful to see them embrace the rainbow, critique the rainbow, add colors to the rainbow. I am grateful to witness the growing alphabet of our identities, and with them, the possibilities.. and even some limitations.

I am grateful to sit in poetry readings and watch them get on stage and wax poetic about their bus ride into town, their latest rendezvous, their first love, their 50th love. I am grateful for the Facebook status updates that inspire and frighten me. I am grateful for the Instagram photos that arouse me and make me blush. I am grateful for the fashion statements that make me smile and those that make me cringe (skinny jeans!). I am grateful for the reminders that I am getting older. That I am still alive.

Roy Lozano, Jr. 
one of my ancestors
And I am full of mourning. I mourn that the generation that preceded my own was largely not there to witness my coming of age. That while I was rambling through what I thought was poetry, they were not there to giggle and roll their eyes. I mourn. I mourn that they were not there to hear me pontificate about the meaning of love, that they were not there to teach me about love. I mourn that they were not there to sit me down when my self-important and self-righteous ego would not shut up. I mourn that they were not there to hear me call them ageist and bitter for trying to pass on knowledge. I mourn that my crushes and fantasies about them were mostly limited to photographs on altars. I mourn that I kissed so few of them; that so few were there to kiss me.

And yet I am grateful. I am grateful for the legacies they left behind. I am grateful that they made my world a bit more welcoming than their world was to them. I am grateful for the foundations they built, for the writings they left behind, for the organizations they built, for the battles they fought. I am grateful. I am grateful for those who did not die. Those who took me in when all they wanted was silence. Those whose burden it was to mentor me, even as they continued to pick themselves up. Those who loved me, even as they struggled to learn how to thrive in the aftermath of their lovers' / brothers' deaths.

I am grateful for the mujeres, the women, who cared for them. The women who loved them, buried them, mourn them. The women who were loved by them, those who carry the stories. Those who shared stories with me. Those who keep the memory alive.

I am grateful to be 34 years old. And I mourn that I am 34 years old. I am grateful for each gray hair, every ache. I am grateful to stand naked in front of a mirror and notice how my body has changed, and foresee the changes to come in the bodies of older lovers. I am grateful to still be alive, when the odds and history predicted I would be gone long ago. Gone, not only because I am gay or brown or opinionated or conscious. Gone because that which makes me whole, all of who I am, is not welcome in this world.

I am now older than many of the men in photographs who were the object of my crushes and fantasies. I am grateful, and I am full of mourning.

So I sit here, at my computer, no longer using a dial-up modem or America Online chatrooms. I sit here and read the post-Pride Facebook status updates of a younger generation. I am smiling, I am blushing, I am giggling, I am rolling my eyes, I am clutching my proverbial pearls. I am happy that they exist in all their complex splendor, and that I am here to bear witness to their lives, the way I wish more of mine were there to witness my life.

Happy Pride, beautiful ones.