This seems to be the year of Pride. Over the last few years we’ve been seeing more and more small towns and communities celebrating Pride. Only a few years ago it seems that only major cities celebrated Pride; now, Pride is everywhere, and I couldn’t be happier about that. Every town has its own personality, made up of all the folks who call it home. This means that every Pride is different and is a reflection of the wants and needs of the community. Having attended several Prides already this year (with more to come), I’m happy to say that each Pride has had something for everyone. To me, this says that more and more members of our community (and our allies) are stepping up to make positive changes in their communities.
For me, that’s what Pride is about: community. There are some great parties and entertainment, along with vendors of all kinds, and they’re all there to support, build, and strengthen our community. After all, none of that would exist or happen if there wasn’t a community to celebrate. Everything about Pride is meant to support and bring people together. To me, that’s a beautiful thing.
Pride is also a chance to meet new people. Here in rural Western Maryland, it’s not uncommon to know people through social media that we’ve never met in person. Pride brings us all together in a safe, affirming place that allows us to form, strengthen, and build new relationships. I also love seeing casual acquaintances expressing themselves in ways I’ve never seen. After all, we can’t always fully express ourselves at work, which means really seeing who someone is presents an opportunity to connect on a deeper level.
Having been on the working side of Pride, I can also say that I’m always pleasantly surprised by how many people are representing organizations and contributing to the community. In the past month I’ve learned about small grassroots organizations that are active in the arts, connect people with resources, and provide services directly to the community. Because most of these organizations are new (or small), I never would have learned about them if I hadn’t run into them at Pride. Let me tell you, there’s so much more going on in our community than you think, and that’s a great thing.
Pride is also a great chance to network. After all, Pride is traditionally the biggest LGBTQ event of the year and lots of people come out (pun intended) to support the community and find out what’s going on. This makes it a great opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals who otherwise would have flown under our radar.
I was recently introduced to a local composer and musician by a friend who knows I’m working on arts outreach for Hagerstown Hopes. The polite introductions quickly turned into a conversation about harpsichords, which is admittedly a niche topic of conversation. As a former pianist, my interest was piqued and I quickly realized that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Finding a harpsichord is like finding a unicorn – it just doesn’t happen. Now I have a new friend with whom I’ve played some challenging piano duets, original compositions, and, yes, I’ve finally gotten to play a harpsichord. Another item from my bucket list has been checked off, and it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gone to Pride.
This random occurrence may seem insignificant, but it means everything to me. I love knowing that there are other music nerds in my own backyard and somehow that makes my world a little bigger and a lot brighter. It also reminds me that there are others like me and that I have access to a whole community that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about. If this is what Pride can do for me, what can it do for you? This Pride season, I hope you find out.
- Brian George Hose has been an advocate for LGBTQ persons and issues all his adult life. He holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Shepherd University and looks forward to pursuing a Master's of Social Work with a focus in mental health. A former musician, Brian served as minister of music for New Light MCC for several years and incorporates music into social work practice. He lives in rural Western Maryland where he has amassed a sinful number of books, yarn, and books about yarn. He has been writing for Baltimore Out Loud since February 2016.