Pride, always pride

Roger's Father's PaintingI can’t remember a Pride week quite like this one. Even as the rainbow flags down Market Street whip bright in the wind and the annual film festival packs in crowds, the still-searing reality of the massacre in Orlando remains. Everywhere. It’s inescapable – as it should be. For most of us, I suspect our minds and our hearts still can’t take in fully the horror that’s occurred.

Through the fog of nightmare, we all know two terrible things to be true. We know that forty-nine young lives, mostly those of Latino gay men, have been extinguished – and that our community has been attacked with shocking brutality.

We’ve never dealt with something just like this before. Tragedies, yes. Outrages, yes, plenty. But nothing like this swift and sickening bloodbath. No, nothing like this.


Midway through last week my father sent me an e-mail, to which he attached a painting he made two days after the Pulse slayings. It’s the image above. I broke down – again – upon opening it, and it’s moved me to tears several times since. My father’s response, of course, touched me as his proud and lucky son. But more than that, somehow through the faces and the colors, through the light and the glows, and in the endless, numberless figures stretching into the distance, he has captured, I think, something of both this dreadful moment and the beauty of our community itself.


Nothing will ever bring back those forty-nine young lives nor fully heal the traumas and injuries of all those affected. Those holes can never be filled. Yet my father was right to title his painting “Darkness Shall Not Overcome.” Our community will survive. We’ve survived a million injustices, a million indignities, a million attacks, a million bullies. We’ve survived lethal indifference and deadly pandemic. We’ve survived vast lies and unrelenting slander. We will survive this, too. And we’ll emerge stronger. We always have and we always will.


Which brings me back to Pride. Our community’s pride can be loud, fueled at times by joy, other times by rage. Our pride can be quiet, lived in families and neighborhoods, workplaces and houses of worship. Our pride rises in cheering parades and in the laughter, embraces, and tears that join us in crisis and in celebration.

Our pride rides a float – and it grabs a microphone and hoists a banner and marches toward justice. Our pride dances in our bars and in our streets and in our hearts. Pride and strength and compassion and love – it is these that we must never lose and that, in the end, will make us truly and forever free.

Nobody, ever, can take that away from us. Nobody, no matter how evil or deranged, ever will.

Everyone at Horizons Foundation wishes you a safe and happy Pride. Thank you for everything you do to remember and honor all who’ve ever been hurt or harmed – and to change this troubled and terrible and yet still glorious world.

People in Orlando still need help. If you haven’t had a chance to contribute, please consider doing so at