I marched in the Pride parade for the first time this year with Tobias’ kettlebell gym, The Warrior Room. There were lots of rainbow booty shorts, lycra, kettlebells, and face paint. We paraded down the street, waving flags, blowing whistles, and screaming for the warriors who would bust out routines on command, pumping their bells and then dancing it out. The experience was a fiesta of color, music, fabulous creativity, and reminders that the first Pride was a riot (Stonewall).

Espen and I grabbed a snack as our group waited in the staging area and decided to hit the bathroom before returning to the festivities. A wrinkled blonde woman bedecked in rainbows and glitter motioned us to the front of the line. “The little ones go first.” she said.  We thanked her profusely as she marshalled us into the room. “I wish this wasn’t’ just one day per year.” she said. I couldn’t agree more and found myself tearing up at the generosity and riotous exuberance all around us. Beauty is a language that needs no translation.

As Espen and I walked back through the streets of Portland, beholding humanity in all its glory, I noticed all the ways bodies show up on this planet. People were baring it all…bums, boobs, thighs, booties, hairs, tummies, and waists. There they were in all their plucked, shorn, hairy, acne’d, cellulite fabulosity. It was absolutely outstanding. Because that is how we are. It is how life is. Patterns exist, we are all 100% human as the silver tattoos proclaimed, and yet, we are so brilliantly unique and wonderful.

Humans come in all shapes and sizes, in lengths and locks. We spend so much time trying to homogenize bodies as well as minds and hearts that we forget the pinwheeled beauty of life’s diverse palette. Seeing the crowds at Pride brought me to tears because this is how life could be every day. Varied, unexpected, full of grace and kindness…it made me want to tear down all the franchises, churches, and politics that try to control us by regulating our appearances, our sexuality, our diversity.

I was raised to be governed by family expectations, by religious structures, and by the cultural privileges afforded me because of a skin color and gender assignment I did not choose. And as much as I could resist, I did. Yet, as they said at church, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Brainwashing 101 on the dark side. 7th Generation planning on the other. We do not know the cages we exist within if we only look to our cellmates for help.

To decolonize ourselves from any power structure, we have to step beyond the pale. We have to venture into territory heretofore taboo.

Non-normative gender gatherings were certainly outside my cult-y world and this was my first time marching at Pride. What I discovered was not just rainbows and unicorns, it was a full frontal of people shining their light. Like a huge exhale after holding your breath your whole life, this was evidence that life does indeed continue to evolve, whether I participate or not. That beauty finds ways to blossom in the cracks of control in the most unlikely ways, with the most soul-reviving effects.

I have been adding Post Cult experiences for almost 20 years in the hopes that one day, I will see mostly beauty instead of control, love instead of fear, and grace instead of judgement. This was one day when I lived into my dream of creating a glorious world for myself, my family, my community, and my world. And my heart drooled at the wonder of it all.


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