Last weekend I attended the Pride Festival in San Francisco. Although I have lived in the Bay Area for my entire for my entire life, I’ve never gone to the event before. Initially, I was fearful of how rowdy the crowds would be. After arriving there on a packed BART train, my apprehensions slowly began to fade away. People were there for the same reason as I was – to celebrate the strides our Bay Area community has made toward accepting everyone’s right to be him or herself and love whomever they choose. Granted, the situation for the LGBTQI community still isn’t perfect. Despite this, events like Pride help us celebrate just how far we’ve come in such a short period of time. When looking past the bright colors, sometimes lack of clothing, and extremely large crowds roaming the streets of San Francisco, you begin to see that the parade is a true representation of the virtue it’s named after… Pride.
After my day in the city, I began to reflect on this core value that the parade celebrated. Is it something that is only seen once a year? Is pride visible in my daily life? I now realize that I see it everyday as I bike to work. Talk to neighborhood residents. Smile at the people who walk down the street. All of the men and women who I have met thus far have a strong sense of pride in where they come from – Oakland. From the outside, it’s hard to believe. Crime rates are high. Education is far from ideal. Drugs are frequently seen on street corners. The people living in this city see what news stories and other medias cannot portray – a community that has united itself around the adversity and lack of support its received in the past. In her interview with CBS, Aimee Allison acknowledges exactly this and states how Oakland residents, despite their deep pride for their home, even overlook the great things the city has to offer to today’s world. Living in the shadow of San Francisco has led to many people not seeing the strengths of this community. In my last three weeks here, I hope to apply the pride that I see in Oakland into how I view the world. I want to apply this value to how I see myself. Thank you, San Francisco’s Pride 2012 and the Oakland Community, for showing me what pride is.