In my own little “Tales of the City” adventure, today I head into San Francisco for a two-fold purpose.
First is church at Glide Memorial UMC church where I have instantly felt so much love, acceptance, and “we don’t give a damn who you are, look like, or come from-ness–we just love you”among the people who meet here.
From there, I’m off to my first Folsom Street Fair–something I’ve wanted to do since I came out, particularly as my interest in self-expression and sex-positivity has grown and then merged within an affirming relationship.
I am anxious.
First, I’m dressed for the day–what I’m wearing now is what I will wear to church and then to Folsom. (It’s not that scandalous but neither is it a bow-tie and dress shoes outfit.) I wouldn’t have the courage to wear this to church at home or around my friends. (Well maybe the latter. They DID my Halloween costume last year.)
Second, I am by myself. I miss our ritual of attending church together and I know he would love the churches I’ve been attending. Still, while the Spirit as Comforter is present, I still miss him. He’s been to Folsom before couldn’t make the trip this time to be with me. I thought about canceling, wondering if it’s right to attend the fair without him. We’ve talked about it and he’s authentically supportive of me checking it out. (He is a deeply empowering life-partner.)
It’s humorous–and empowering–to walk down the streets of Berkeley and observe the looks on peoples’ faces and encounter their eyes as they try to make sense of me.
It’s fascinating–and empowering–to be surrounded by so many queer people on the train. People who are obviously headed to Folsom and people who are just living their damn lives, expressing who they are in their own off-beat and in many instances, counter-cultural way. Men who express their male-ness and masculinity with no more effort than pulling on a tee; yet they, many of them, bear little resemblance to a conformed self-reality; they are just … Men.
It’s encouraging–and comforting–to know when I get to church, ain’t no one gonna judge me for how I express myself or for where they will know I’m going afterward. I wonder, though, if I will be as welcomed when I get to Folsom–itself an expression of the broader gay community I belong to, but a subset that is queered, leathered, overtly sex-positive.
Perhaps if I am comfortable with myself and convey that with my energy, I will be. I am reluctant to broach this community, for while this event is all about freedom of expression, the culturized image of masculinity and what makes a man intimidates me. Another group dictating what it means to be a man.
It is relieving–and empowering–to very purposefully integrate my spirituality and sexuality. This is who I am, also.
And I purposefully choose to live in THIS space, today, as I worship the God who made me, through song and by celebrating the embodiment of the divine in me.