Glitter, rainbows, chaps, and high heels—just a few of the things one would expect to see at a Pride Parade.
Snipers—not so much.
But they were there. Just above the crowds roaring for dancing cowboys and reveling in the confetti, a team of snipers peered down from the Chicago rooftops.
In the wake of the shooting in Orlando at the gay nightclub, Pulse, it’s heartbreaking to say that such an increased level of protection was necessary at a parade over 1,000 miles away. The Orlando shooting left 49 dead, and though coverage has been all over the news, it is worth reiterating that it is the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the worst terror attack since 9/11.
My sister and I have made it our tradition to go to the Pride Parade each year, but there was a hint of hesitation in planning the trip this time. Being fully aware of the shadow of risk in the given circumstance, would I be able to live with myself if something tragic happened? Call me a worrywart, but when the people you love become part of the equation it’s easy to let the nerves make decisions.
Last year’s parade coincided with the momentous Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in which the 5-4 decision guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry. It was an unabashed celebration of love.
This year’s parade began with a somber remembrance of the 49 faces that were lost to hate. But does that not deserve just as much, if not more, of an outpour of love?
Ultimately, we decided to make the trip. If fear had kept us from celebrating love and acceptance, then the hate that motivated the shooting in the first place would have kept two more voices from cheering on the streets. And that’s just too much power than I’m willing to grant.
While I’m proud that we chose to not let fear dictate our lives, I’m also not advocating completely ignoring those natural nerves. In this day in age, it is important to be in touch with your gut instincts and to acknowledge your emotions. Being in touch with your inner radar and being able to smell a fishy situation is not something that should be overlooked. However, there are times when taking the time to process and analyze those emotions are important as well.
It is important to acknowledge fear. It is important to acknowledge sadness.
But it is also important to never let those emotions permanently take the wheel and drive your life. Small decisions rooted in fear may not seem like much to fret over—but if left unchecked those small decisions can bubble into habitual decisions, which can bubble into your outlook on life, which can bubble into your ideology, how you vote, the people we elect, the policies we live by and the values we promote to future generations.
Fear and resentment tend to breed more of the same. As fearful as it makes me to live in a world where snipers have to hover above a parade celebrating love, what makes me more fearful is a world where fear keeps everyone away from the celebration to begin with.
Thank goodness we don’t live in the latter.
Don’t let fear take your decisions. Take PRIDE in them instead.