Since June is LGBT Pride Month, I thought I’d share my experiences (good and bad) of the first Pride I went to at Wilton Manors, Florida in June 2014 called “Stonewall Pride“. I had only been on hormones for 8 months or so and I had only just started presenting female earlier that month.
I went with my boss, the Accounting Manager at the company I worked for at the time in Miami. He was a late 40-something gay guy and he was the first person I came out to as transgender at that company. He was always extremely supportive of me and of my transition and he helped me through some tough times in my work and personal life. He invited me the year before, but I chickened out. But that year I was a little more confident and already “out”, both as transgender and as pansexual.
I remember the day well (a Saturday). It was pissing it down with rain on the way to Wilton Manors – a town which is part of metro Fort Lauderdale and has the one of the largest gay communities in the southeastern United States. It was the first time I ventured out properly, wearing short shorts, sandals and a tank top (usual attire in South Florida). I managed to find parking (eventually) and walked about 15 minutes to where the events were taking place. I was early as far as meeting my boss was concerned, so I walked around nervously, hater blockers (sunglasses) on and feeling petrified and wet (as it kept raining on and off). As I walked, I heard a group of people whistle at me from an apartment balcony “Work it girl!” I pretended I didn’t hear it and kept walking.
A lady approached me and said she worked for modeling agency and asked if I’d be interested. I took her business card and leaflet and just laughed, wondering what drugs she was on. I thought it was a windup until I got home and looked online. They were a genuine agency. They called several times to try to schedule an appointment, but I never called them back.
I bought myself a 2-3 Bacardi & cokes, got myself sufficiently numb, then met my boss after looking at the various vendor stalls. He seemed much more relaxed and “himself” outside of work. We didn’t even talk about work at all. We watched the parade for a few hours, mainly checking out men. It was an enjoyable spectacle, despite the crummy Florida hurricane season weather (we both thought that it would have been much better in December). We saw three people we knew from work, but they either didn’t see us or didn’t want to be seen with us.
After the parade, we went to sit down and had lunch at a bar / restaurant called Georgie’s Alibi. I’d been there before and knew the food was good. We ate and talked for about an hour, then made our way to an indoor bar. I had a few shots with my boss, a couple of whiskey & cokes. By that time, I was pretty hammered, as was my boss.
My boss left around 7 (I think?), but I decided to stay on longer. I made my way to where the live music was, where people were dancing and having fun. This is the part where I knew I should have just gone home and left it at that, but I wanted to wait until later, so I could go back to my car and sleep it all off.
I was standing in the crowd, trying not to look too awkward, clutching my drink when “Excuse me, are you Marilyn Manson?”, one girl asked. Shocked, I just said “No!” “But you look just like him. Can I take a photo of you with us?” Needless to say, I played along with it (as I used to play along with school bullies by making fun of myself) and posed for them. The magnitude of the insult hadn’t hit me due to the alcohol. A bunch of girls were laughing as I retreated to an empty table and sat down. I tried to look busy by playing with my phone.
But that wasn’t the end of it. “Dude, are you Marylyn Manson? OMG you look just like him”. This time it was a guy, who looked like a cross between Lionel Richie and Craig David. “No, I’m a girl“, I replied. “No way! You mean like you’re a woman trapped in a man’s body or something?” as he looked down at me as if I had six heads. I tried to ignore him, but he kept on, “That’s a dude!” despite me having visible breasts, even that early on in transition. At that point, I literally told him he needed to get the fuck out of my face. He and his friends immediately backed off and got the hint. And no, that rare bit of assertion in me did not make me feel any better, as they were probably scared of me and my male sounding voice.
I remember sitting alone at the table for well over an hour, trying to hold it together and not cry in the middle of a crowded and very happy place. Some has-been artist called Sheila E (I think) was performing. I looked to the next table and there was a scrawny looking guy sitting on his own. He came over and sat by me and started chatting me up. We talked for a couple of hours, then he invited me back to his place. He told me he was bisexual, but preferred girls and reiterated that he saw me as a girl.
We left around 11pm, walked to my car, trying to avoid reservoir-sized rain puddles from earlier showers. We drove back to his place in Pompano Beach, which was actually his mum’s place. We stopped at a gas station on the way so that he (Michael) could buy a six pack of nasty beer. He turned the radio on to some gangster rap station and kept putting his hand on my leg, but I was more concerned with being stopped by the police, as I had an expired (Massachusetts) tag, despite living in Florida for 2 years.
When we got there, I parked and his mom was there. He took me down to the beach, which was just a block or so away from his mom’s house. She told us both to be careful and didn’t seem shocked that her son had come back with a freak. I remember holding hands as we made our way onto the sand. He put his sweater on the sand so I could sit down, then we kissed. We also talked as he drank the rest of his shitty beer, then we went back to the house. He mentioned sex earlier, but I didn’t feel like it. The house was almost bare of furniture and brand new. The room I slept in was totally bare, but it had its own bathroom and shower, so I took a much needed shower. I had to sleep on the floor. He stayed with me for a bit and cuddled me, then just upped and left. He was a weird guy; he told me he had a warrant for his arrest back in New York (where he was from).
I didn’t sleep well and left the next morning before anyone got up. The sun was out at least and it was typically hot and humid. I only heard from Michael a few times after that, which was probably for the best as he really wasn’t my type anyway. I’m glad we didn’t do anything sexual. I think he just wanted a ride home as it was too late to call mom’s taxi service.
So that was my first and only Pride that I’ve been to. It was fun at first, then I was misgendered horribly and mistaken for Marylyn Manson, which has still left scars to this day. I should have left earlier, like my gut was telling me to.