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Pride/Tribe – Part II: Revenge of the Midtown Traffic

It’s funny how things work out.

Contrary to my well-laid plans, I ending spending the better half of Atlanta Pride on Sunday stuck in traffic in my grandmother’s car.  As much as I wanted to enjoy it, it turns out pride isn’t nearly as fun rolling down West Peachtree in a 10 year-old tan Lexus no matter how many times they play Lady Gaga on the radio.

Instead, a mix of occurrences called my best friend and I out to Vinings (Atlanta’s version of the Bronx). Between that and schlepping my Grandmother, Aunt and cousin to see Wicked at the Fox Theater, the most of the pride parade I got to see consisted of the rental trucks used for the floats trying aimlessly to find their way back to the interstate.

I’m not complaining, mind you.  The Fox run was planned well in advance and I was happy to do it.  The trip out to Vinings was unexpected but turned out to be definitely of benefit to my friend who had been going through a rough patch.

What had stuck in my craw actually occurred the night before on what turned out to be a bad third date. It was one of those situations where we were both trying really hard to be what each other wanted and it was obvious that it wasn’t going to work. I felt crappy enough being the one to say, “let’s just be friends” that getting up the next morning and being “fabulous” was just not on the menu.

Suffice it to say, I woke up on Sunday morning a little frustrated an it just kind of went downhill from there.

Luckily I wasn’t alone.  After we returned, my best friend Grace* and I agreed that we needed to take our friend Karen*, the one we had just met in Vinings, out to drinks and a movie later that evening.  Over wine and flatbread at The Grape in Atlantic Station we all kind of bonded over the frustrations of recently dating a guys that just didn’t live up to expectations.

We ended the night having WAY too much fun at a showing of What’s Your Number, a romantic comedy about screwed up relationships. The irony and appropriateness of how we ended the evening didn’t escape us.

As annoying as it was to miss the parade, I ended up my own little version of pride on Sunday.  Good friends, family and a story worth telling. Isn’t that enough to celebrate not just one day of the year but every day?

*Names changed to protect the “innocent”

Pride/Tribe – Part I

When I was a teenager, finally making it to Atlanta Pride felt like the bravest thing I could possibly do. I never really had any gay friends in high school so gay pride was the one time of year I really felt any connection the gay community at all.

Flash forward 15 years, an internship with a major gay rights organization and four boyfriends and nothing much has changed. In fact, as gay pride rolled around this year on Yom Kippur, I couldn’t help but see the similarities in my relationship with the gay community and my relationship with the Jewish community.

With both, I am proud to say I am a member of a strong community with a legacy of triumph and perseverance. However, in a way, I am at odds with each of them.

Looking around Piedmont Park at the hundreds of white gay men with mussed hair, tank tops and oversized sunglasses I can’t help but think to myself – who the hell are you people?! Where once the rallying cry of gay pride was “diversity and acceptance” it now seems to be “fabulosity through conformity.”

I feel a very similar juxtaposition with the Jewish community.  Despite my family having deep-seeded roots in various congregations, I am still searching for an Atlanta-based congregation that I feel fits with my own version of myself as a Jew.

In both instances, the idea of authenticity and unique expression play an important role in the search for a place to “call my own.”

With everything going on in my life, it’s easy for me feel surrounded at the macro level. I feel enormously lucky to have made connections with an eclectic, diverse group of people from all walks of Atlanta life.  The challenge is getting down to the more basic level of community – one that most people take for granted.

For now though, I’ll leave it at this: I was walking out of Atlanta Pride, yesterday and happen to bump into a friend of mine.  It was late in the day, my Yom Kippur fast was starting to get to me and I was eager to get home to take a nap.  It was completely random but we ended up chatting about one of my groups and how he should come and speak.

Thus is my life these days – completely interconnected despite the randomness.  Now, if I can only make sense out of it I’ll be all good.

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