From high school to Pride: A reunion and celebration of faux pas
June 11, 2012 | 2:24 pm
(Updated: February 25, 2013 | 3:22 pm)
I’ve been told to never live in the past, but reflecting on who we are and who we’ve become is a natural part of being human. You have the green light – it’s OK to pull out that dusty letter jacket or cheerleading skirt from time to time to reminisce.
No matter what memories you have tucked away from high school, you inevitably wonder what would that reunion would be like. What would it be like to revisit who you were back then? But as a broader community, we experience our own reunion every June in the Mile High City.
Pride rolls around and we catch a breath of summertime, hop on that Ferris Wheel and let ourselves feel the rush. We crush. We dance. We reconnect, for the good and for the bad.
Community is a powerful thing because it unites people who wouldn’t normally identify with each other. The annual gathering under the massive umbrella of PrideFest is like stepping back into the halls of high school. Sometimes it’s the loose ties like sharing a hometown or graduating with the same mascot that help us relate across all the vast differences.
At any reunion it can be difficult to be reminded of who we were and what we’ve done. Sometimes we turn a corner and there’s that person: The one who kissed you under the bleachers and told everyone. Then again, sometimes it’s the person that held your hand when you were coming out or taught you how to love in a new way.
Nearly 10 years ago I was notorious for clomping through the hallowed halls of Fredonia High with, quite possibly, the most horrendous black platforms. My signature heels, resembling circus stilts with the wedge of the heel cut out, made an unmistakable, hollow “cooohph” sound echoing off the lanes of lockers as I scurried toward sixth period Chemistry with my oversized 30-pound book bag.
These heels were a fashion accessory I proudly clonked around on for close to a year, and I boldly paired them with zebra print pants – ya, I said it – and a candy apple red fur jacket. I was hot shit – or so I thought. I might not have been the IT girl, but I rocked it unapologetically and fielded the flack that came my way.
Fast-forwarding to 2012, I’d like to think I upgraded the wardrobe to be a bit more vogue and less like a textile factory made love to a Chia Pet. Trends come and go, but learning to express the complexity of your gender through physical dress is timeless. As a high femme lesbian, I’m most in my element when I glide into a room in patent leather pumps, paired with a pencil skirt and slinky silk top. Top it off with some vintage costume jewelry: Magic.
My uber-girly dress has elicited questions from other lesbians that don’t see what I wear as “gay” enough. One ex actually bought me a pair of basketball shorts! My body rejected them faster than a batch of bad oysters.
Pride is a time to reconnect with these friends and remember that – although we all identify in a variety of ways and have gone on to accomplish a multitude of different things – we have deep shared roots, and that’s worth revisiting each year.
Years ago, my sister Katie joined me for the parade and post-parade rooftop festivities. In our hot little outfits – complete with cowboy hats – we danced and flirted with everyone. Next to us, the ropes went up and some snarky man shooed us from his coveted VIP section. We weren’t allowed to sit at his lunch table. Within minutes we channeled our inner Kardashian, throwing down plastic and lifting VIP bottles up –inviting everyone into our section.
It’s entertaining to remember times like these. My girlfriend at the time went on to marry a man, two of my friends that were engaged are now mortal enemies, and I’m pretty sure I got scrappy with my ex, who is now one of my best friends. Things come full circle, and you just never know what photos will make it into the yearbook to talk about for years to come.
As we prep for the grand reunion at PrideFest, what things will you be pulling out of the closet? Think about all the outfits you’ve seen at over the years. What is definitively frightening garb to one person, you’ll find draped on a busty drag queen. You call it duct tape, someone else will call it a bikini top. What matters most is that we each carry a promise to unapologetically rock what we have.
We strut. We flex. We say, “screw the celebratory fireworks, we have men with glittery butt cheeks to confuse our sense of sight!” Most importantly, we walk into the reunion knowing that with each year, we become a better brew. Cheers to that! ]
Amy Lynn O’Connell is an executive for an e-marketing company and soon-to-be adjunct instructor at UCD. She frequently travels to far-off lands to close deals with serious people in suits.