This was my first Pride in the US. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, and the way Baltimoreans new and old spoke to me about it built up a bit of hesitation. Wait till you realize how monetized it is. You’re going to see how cliquey it is, how folks tend to stick together. The community is strong, but it’s mostly just a day-long party—and then we go home alone and afraid. It’s the one day a year I make the most money, and then spend it all.
And then Saturday the 15th rolled around bright and sunny, and as photographer María Sánchez and I walked through a colorful, defiant, triumphant mass of people, many of those apprehensions fell away. No one within the parade seemed to care about Pride going mainstream. Our simple presence was significant—we showed up, that was that. Or so I thought. “I’m covering Pride today,” I told a bystander. “Honey, you participate in Pride,” they purred. “We put the party in participate.”
My feelings about Pride are immense, but then Pride is immense. The banners, the signs, the leather and the glitter, the noise, the odors, the bubbles and the pom-poms, the dogs in rainbow tutus, all of it coming together in a shared discourse of struggle and celebration—this could have been overwhelming. But I was mostly just soaking it all in. I felt delirious. I also felt at home.
But how do you explain all this to those who weren’t there? About how it isn’t just an event, but a series of happenings that flow from one to the other, a flurry of feathers and satin and cheap shots and loud music? How do you say this? Because I got asked about it afterwards as much as I got told about it prior. How was Pride? I always paused, because I didn’t know if I had any adjectives outside of the visceral. It was sweaty, smelly, messy, exhausting, glorious. I felt more thirsty than joyous. I felt more fatigue than pride. I spent a whole day recovering from it, rolled up in bed with a book.
As we watched everyone dancing from the afternoon till the early hours of the morning that day, the air humid with sweat and conversation, the richness of this vast, diverse group of people coming together to strut and wave and shout from the rooftops, declaiming from every makeshift stage, this is me—that is what I carried back home with me at 4 in the morning. May we continue to assert who and why we are, bigger and better and shinier every year. (Priyanka Kumar)
Photos by María Sánchez.
María Sánchez is from Caracas, Venezuela. She is currently BmoreArt’s photo and marketing intern.
Priyanka Kumar is an illustrator and muralist from Kolkata, India, and is currently a part of MICA’s Illustration Practice MFA program. She is one of BmoreArt’s editorial interns.