I remember my first Pride in New York–well, technically my second, since I spent my first New York Pride in Soho, selling reasonably priced shoes to tourists. The second I spent it with The Ex Fiancé and his friends, starting with a bottomless brunch and leading to the parade. It was so much bigger than Iowa Pride, bigger and gayer than ever.
I had to leave the festivities early to go to work, where I sat tables in a half-drunk, still-dreamy state, feeling G-A-Y.

I remember last year’s Pride, how close it was after the Pulse shooting, how deeply we still felt the pain. I’ve never felt anything so intensely, as if I knew each of the victims personally, as if they were each my best friend. We all felt it. We felt it because they were OUR people.

Some of my friends were scared it would spark an attack in New York. We didn’t care. I put on my gold Rocky underwear and walked with the New York Rocky Horror Picture Show shadowcast, my second time being IN a Pride parade, feeling more pride than ever.

I remember my first Pride.

I was 15 years old, living in Iowa. My best friend, Jordan, was 16, and had a friend who bartended at a gay haven called The Frathouse and got us onto their float. He wore white underwear with Frathouse’s logo on the ass, I wore bright orange booty shorts, and we both wore grey tank tops that proclaimed “We Are Everywhere” next to a rainbow.

It was cloudy and cold all day, but that didn’t stop my joy–or make me put pants on.

My father and stepmom showed up to the parade. I should have been mortified, but it meant a lot that they came out, just to see me, just to show their support. (It also meant I was grounded for a week, but at least they waited until after Pride was over to confine me to my room and give me a talk about growing up too fast.)

That silly little tank top–just cotton and polyester, cheaply woven, barely hemmed, something my dad and I found at Hot Topic right before Pride Weekend. I wore that tank top for seven years while the grey tinged yellow and the seams came undone. I have photos wearing it on the float, in second period Algebra, at my college’s annual drag show, in Puerto Rico…

It wasn’t a particularly attractive tank top, nor did it look particularly attractive on me. But its message–WE ARE EVERYWHERE–it rings so true. Even in its poly-cotton grave, it stands as a reminder that I’m never alone, that I am a part of a community.

We are everywhere. I won’t forget it, and wherever you are, don’t forget that I’m here with you.