Article by Rikki Dubois, photo by Meg Crane
June 2010 is the first time I attended Pride events. Pride is the time of year where LGBT people come out to celebrate, well, coming out. And that year was the biggest and best to that point. Maybe it was because I was there, but it may be because of the other 7,000 people who attended.
For me, it started on Friday night. There was a coffee house fundraiser for Camp Aurora, which is a summer camp for LGBT teens who want to be with others like themselves. This is a very worthwhile charity and I had answered the call for volunteers to help set-up/take down. After volunteering, I found out my friend Kate was going to be there to do a reading from her just released book. So it was going to be twice as special.
The doors were to open at 7:00. I got there at 5:45 to help set-up. After I introduced myself to the fellow in charge, I waited for instructions as to what was needed to be done. He came to find me with a girl in hand and asked if I drove there. When I told him that I did, he asked if I could give the poor girl, Robin, a ride home, because she forgot her bongos there. Considering she brought different guitars and various other instruments, it goes to reason that something would be forgotten. So I agreed.
She lived in the area that the coffee house was taking place in, but because of the one-way streets, we had to take a round about way to get to her place. We spent half an hour together in my vehicle, going there and getting back. We had plenty of time to talk. I am normally a shy person, but Robin made me feel so welcome that I couldn’t help telling her all about me, my family and my coming out. And about transgenders in general. She then shared some information about herself. It seems like in that half an hour, I had made a good friend. And a very talented friend, from what I saw of her performance that night.
Well, we got back okay, and when we walked in, I ran into Kate. (Literally, she was in the doorway and I ran into her.) She was there with our friends Hailey and Echo. I chatted with them, then went to help set-up the silent auction, which was the task that was assigned to me. When I was done, I sat with my friends and waited for the festivities to begin.
It was a great evening. We watched singers, writers and poets. And drag queens who amused us as Mistresses of Ceremonies. It was my first time at such an event in my life and I totally enjoyed myself. After we called it a night and went home. The night was finished, but the memories will last a lifetime.
Sunday, was the official Pride Day. I had always thought about going, but had never been able to. So this was also a first for me. I woke up early, at around 5:00 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I got up around 6:00 and started to get ready. By 10:00, my eyes were burning, and I knew I had to get out of the house or start to fall asleep. So I called my friends at Hailey’s home and asked if I could go over. We were to meet for the parade anyway, so this meant we would meet earlier. It worked out well for us. Kate and Hailey ended up jumping in with me, so one parking stall was all we needed. But while the girls were getting ready, Kate came out of her room with a pendant on a chain and gave it to me. She said she wanted me to have it, because it would have no history attached to it and would help me start my new life. And I answered that it now has history to it. It meant a lot to me. Thank you, Kate.
While Kate was getting ready, Hailey went outside for a cigarette and asked me to join her, so I did. We talked of our childhoods and how we suppressed our female sides from the time we were young. It was the first time that I have ever talked of such things with her.
We parked at the Forks, which is a gathering spot where the parade was going to end up, and walked to the start of it at the Legislative grounds. After listening to the speeches and the singing, the parade started. As we were standing there, a dog came by and sniffed me. I bent down to pet him and I saw that attached to his leash was none other than my friend Robin, who I met on Friday. After giving her a hug, we went on our separate ways.
Hailey, Kate and I met up with Echo and Karen and watched the floats go by. After, we fell in at the back of the parade. A comment was made that trans folk always seem to be bringing up the rear, just like in LGBT. But that works for us. It was a lovely day, but half-way through, I was missing my sweetie, Charlene. I longed for her to be with us to share this important first time with me, but it could not be helped. A little later my phone started to vibrate. Charlene sent me a text and it made me smile. What a wonderful lady.
The parade ended at the Forks and we walked around the various booths and bought some Pride trinkets. After stopping for a drink (non-alcoholic), Echo and Karen left us and the three of us went on a search for food. Like the good hunter/gatherers we are, we were on the lookout for hamburgers. And we found some. A food truck with a line-up a block long was parked among other food trucks with line-ups a block long. But hamburgers were required, so we waited. It was not too bad, it may have been about 20 minutes or so, before we were able to put in our orders. Once retrieved, we sat on the grassy knoll and ate. I had a burger, Kate had fries and Hailey had a burger and fries.
It was a nice day to be sitting in the sun, a slight breeze going by catching our hair. Well, not my hair so much, because I had a hat on. I had let Kate wear it for a while and I must say, it looked great on her. She was starting to get a bit overheated by the sun, so she needed it more than I did. But by this time, she felt better.
After we ate, we walked around the site for a bit and listened to some of the live entertainment. When we saw that the booths were starting to pack up, we headed to my van and left. It was a good afternoon and Mother Nature cooperated with us. I’ll have to remember to send her a thank-you note.
I dropped off the girls at home and told them I would be back after I went home to shower and change. A white dance (dress code is to wear white) was to be held that evening and we would decide if we would go or not. I hurried home. I shaved, again, and had a shower. I put on my egg-shell dress (the closest thing to white I have), and went back to see what the others wanted to do.
When I got there, I knocked on the door. Then rang the bell. Twice. I knew they were home because I saw the vehicle in the back and they were expecting me. The door finally opened by a sleepy Kate. I thought she was going to fall over. We sat in the living room and I waited for her to wake up. Hailey came down a little while later and said she was not sleeping, but she didn’t hear me at the door either. Maybe I didn’t ring loud enough.
Anyway, after hemming and hawing about where to go, the decision was made to go to Gio’s, an LGBT-friendly club in the city. It would be my first time there and I was kind of intrigued by it. I offered to drive again, since I don’t drink, so that Kate and Hailey could drink and not worry about driving. While they were preparing to go out, Hailey came down and gave me some of the hormones she had that she no longer needs. So since this day, I have been taking hormones. Thank you, Hailey.
We got our drinks, Caesars for the two girls and a ginger ale for me, and walked around until we found a corner to stand (there was no place to sit) and watch the crowd. Not long after we got there, a fellow named Roger set his sights on Hailey and proceeded to talk to her. A lot. I laughed because I saw the signs and knew what he was up to. I made the comment to Kate that he was trying to pick her up, and we laughed. Because we were standing next to the outside bar, some people would come by and talk to us, some the girls knew and some they didn’t. A fellow named Wayne started to talk to us, and because he was slightly inebriated I found him to be boring. He was a very nice guy and was having a good time, but I grew up with guys like that and when you’re sober, guys like that are boring. So I just kind of looked around at the people who were there and watched the dancing on the stage. I enjoyed that. After a bit, we were ready for a second drink and since the outside bar does not make Caesars, we went in to get one. It was then that I was informed that Kate cannot handle her liquor, but I told Hailey that I would watch her.
Well, half-way through her second drink, I saw what they meant. She was flirty with anybody coming by and I started to worry. She is my friend and I didn’t want to see her get into trouble. So I followed her around like a mother hen, making sure she was okay. When she started dancing, I joined her and we went on stage. We danced for five or six songs and had a great time. It was the first time in 20 years that I had danced like that and probably the first time in my life that I was able to let myself go and dance like I felt. And it was definitely the first time I ever danced wearing a dress. So it was all good.
After we left the stage, we went back to the corner where Hailey and Roger were still deep in conversation. Wayne came by to go to the bar and started to talk to us again. Kate had mellowed a bit so I was able to move away. I did that because Wayne was boring and the way he was swinging his beer glass around, I thought I may end up getting a beer bath.
But I stood nearby and watched them and before I knew it, the music started to move my feet. This was also a first for me. To dance by myself in public, “like no one was watching,” as the saying goes. And I enjoyed it. Once in a while, one of the younger girls would walk by and dance with me. One introduced herself and her girlfriend to me and asked my name. After that, because of the loudness of the music, conversation was not realistic.
Being that it was a Sunday, the music ended at 11:00 p.m. and it was time for us to go home. Hailey went to the washroom before we left and Roger walked us to the door. He talked to Kate for a bit, but I couldn’t hear what was being said. He then turned to me and stretched out his arms, so I leaned in for a hug. I love to hug, but mainly girls. This was the first time that I had a man hug me, and it was okay. While he hugged me, he said he liked my hair. That made me feel good. No one has ever said they liked my anything when I was in male mode. I thanked him sweetly.
We walked out and the two girls who danced with me were sitting on the ground outside. I said good-night to them and they said the same to me. We got into the van and I drove Kate and Hailey home. Hailey was sitting in the back, so I gave her a half hug when we got home, and Kate gave me a warm hug. I said good-night and I came home.
It was a magical night for me. A magical weekend full of firsts. But the best of all, it was the first time I went out as a woman and I loved it. I have finally arrived.
Article by Rikki Dubois, a transgendered writer from Winnipeg. Her book “Muffy was Fluffy” helps children understand what it means to be transgendered. Order it today from McNally RobinsonMcNally Robinson.