Pride (A Deeper Love): What Pride Month Means to Me06 June, 2019
Pride (A Deeper Love): What Pride Month Means to Me
Jim Andrews, Founding Member, Board of Directors, HomeField Alliance
In one word, the observance of Pride Month each June is to me a reminder.
It’s certainly a time to reminisce about the parades, parties and people from the past 30 years since my first Pride celebration in Chicago in 1989. But more than just those great personal memories of friends and floats, Pride Month reminds me to think not just about my own experiences, but those of all the members of our LGBTQ+ community in all its rainbow glory.
And that’s important, because as a 54-year-old, white, cisgender man who lives comfortably with his husband in a liberal enclave on Chicago’s North Side, let me tell you, the bubble is real.
So, reminders that my experience isn’t everyone’s are extremely important. My volunteer work with About Face Theatre has long served this purpose. AFT’s youth theater program puts the stories of LGBTQ+ youth, many from underrepresented communities front and center, as does its mainstage programming, with works by many women, trans and POC playwrights.
HomeField Alliance is another reminder. And one I clearly needed. When Jake Lenz laid out his vision for the organization over lunch a while back and asked if I would help out as a founding board member, my first question to him was: “Is such an organization really necessary?”
That’s because I was looking at the sports and entertainment industry from the perspective of someone with a three-decade career under his belt. I had reached the point of having a great network and the luxury of not being concerned with what others in the business thought of my sexuality. On top of that, I couldn’t help but feel that the situation for young LGBTQ+ professionals in our industry was so much better than it had been for my peers and me starting our careers 30 years ago.
That initial conversation with Jake was a reminder that even though things were indeed much better, they still weren’t what they should be—not by a long shot—so yes, HomeField Alliance was—and is—necessary.
Even when I want to get on a soap box and rail against some of the negative aspects of what Pride Month has become—people who see the parade as just an excuse to get drunk and stupid, businesses who brandalize my social feeds and email inbox with inauthentic rainbow-colored messages, etc.—the reminders keep coming.
Just this past weekend, a lesbian teacher friend told us the story of one of her students who was able to come out to his family in part because our friend and her wife were such great role models in their small community about 40 miles west of Chicago. I don’t know if that young man will come into the city for any of the myriad pride events this month, but I’m glad he has the opportunity.
And I don’t know what I will be doing on June 30 when Chicago’s Pride Parade steps off just a few miles south of my home. Rich and I may meet up with friends and partake in the festivities, or we may put our feet up, raise a glass of rosé from our back porch and enjoy the peace and quiet of a summer Sunday afternoon.
Either way, just the existence of Pride Month will help keep me mindful of and connected to my community, and for that I am very grateful. As the anthemic Clivilles & Cole song suggests, Pride really is about A Deeper Love.