Jason McDonald; Knoxville, Tenn.
In 2003, I had vaguely heard of Pride before, but had never been a part of it, nor did I think too much about it. In my mind Pride was about just that: pride in one's community, pride to be free in who you are, pride expressed in a "good" way, as opposed to the biblical idea of "pride = sin." To me, the upcoming Pride event was an opportunity to take a deep breath, let my hair down, and spend some time getting in touch with myself again. To me, Pride meant freedom, openness and hope. ... My feelings about Pride mirrored my feelings of my life at the time.
Throughout the entire weekend at Atlanta Pride ... I danced, I drank, I danced ... at one point I lost my lesbian friends at Backstreets; I lost track of time and danced until 6 a.m., just in enough time to get back to the hotel room and get ready for the next day's adventures. Needless to say, this was pre-middle age, pre-drug addiction, and pre-HIV, so my energy was as endless as it was innocent.
Read Jason's full story of his first -- and second -- Pride celebrations.