Today is the third day of Pridefest, Denver's gay pride celebration. The parade is always on Sunday morning, and historically it's been the only event of pride I really participate in. In my former life I used to host Super Early Pre-Parade Brunchishness. The parade sets up in Cheesman Park, just behind my old apartment. Friends and I would sit on the balcony drinking mimosas or screwdrivers and nibbling pastries while watching the parade being set up in the park below.
Last year was the first year in about 6 that I hadn't hosted a gathering because I was on my mania fueled quest on the east coast. This year, to carry on the tradition, my friend Brion hosted Brunchishness at his place, and he invited me to attend. After brunch, we would go as a group to the parade.
I woke up at 6:45 so I could catch the bus downtown. Knowing I would be in a social situation, and then be around crowds, I took an extra Klonipin in hopes of keeping my anxiety under wraps. As it was I had been up half the night with anxious feelings, vacillating between yes I'm going and no I'm not going. I wanted to go to see friends that I hadn't seen in over a year. I wanted to take part in the festivities. I wanted to have fun.
It may not sound like much, but to say I wanted to have fun was a big step. Usually I'm stuck in self flagellation and don't feel like I deserve to have a good time.
As soon as I got off the bus near my friend's apartment, I started to feel like I had made a mistake in going. The crowds were already starting to gather, and I was feeling anxious to the point of near panic. I decided that since I'd spent an hour and a half to get there by bus that I would just power through and make the most of it. I stopped on a quiet block to smoke a cigarette and center myself before going in to brunch.
The gathering was small and relaxed. I knew half of the people there, and it was indeed good to see old friends. I was so anxious however, I sat in a chair, eating grapes, and hardly followed the conversations, let alone take part in any of them. I was grateful when the time came that we would leave the apartment and go to the parade. At least I didn't feel awkward about not being involved in conversation while walking to the parade.
At the corner of Grant and Colfax, we stopped to watch a few floats go by, but we decided not to stay there as there was an angry man who apparently wanted to save some souls. It was very awkward to be near him though because he kept yelling about how everyone had turned their backs on Jesus, and then to make it even more awkward, that penises are made for vaginas and vice versa. He was loud, so we moved on.
I was surprised to see a group of Mormons marching in the parade. They had signs saying LDS heart LGBT and God loves my gay son. It was a little weird, and I can't imagine there was any actual support of this group from the church itself.
I didn't last very long. My energy level was low and I couldn't find joy in being in the crowd or watching the parade. I watched another few floats pass and then said my goodbyes. I needed to get out of there even though there were a number of friends I had yet to see. I walked a few blocks until I found a bus stop that didn't have anyone waiting at it. I didn't want to be around anyone. I just wanted to get on the bus and go back home and crawl into bed.
I wish I could say that I feel good about having gone, or that I had a good time, but honestly, and I'm not proud to say it, it was a disaster of anxiety. I wanted to feel proud of myself for overcoming my anxiety and taking part in society, being social, and having a good time. Maybe next year...