Paula SmithFor many of us, the annual tradition of Gay Pride has been both a time of reflection on gay history and struggles and a celebration of important milestones and achievements. Twenty-nine years ago, I was standing on the State House steps for Pride. I watched my fellow LGBT, glittering queens, buff gay men, butches and femmes, rainbow flags triumphantly raised, and plenty of hyper–sexualized carrying on blending perfectly in a saucy commemorative celebration of solidarity, liberation, and freedom. I was wearing my best jeans with a blouse left over from the seventies. Although there was excitement all around me, I couldn’t hold back the tears in my eyes and the rage in my throat.

That day, I, like many LGBTQs, was exiled from my family. “Do not come home.We disagree with your morals and values [being lesbian], so we think that you should spend your life in Newport, RI. “This was written in a letter FedEx-ed to me by my parents. After reading it, I turned their hate and rejection against myself.

I believe there are two active ingredients without which nothing happens. One is anger. The other is love. It is a volatile mixture. Most of us have been burned trying to get the balance right. Many of us have been blown up. That’s because anger is love’s poison, and if it’s not harnessed right it can destroy the sacred joy, love, and real power that are possible for us.

The past was locked inside me, building up pressurized fumes from the wrong mix of love and anger—a formula for self-hatred that outlives life’s blessings. A wise person once said, “If you forget or ignore the past, it grows inside you.“ Self–hatred doesn’t just go away, not on its own. Being a part of the historic symbolic action of Gay Pride is a wonderful way to heal and transcend the wildfire inside. The approach to this alchemical process has many layers. However, the key is in understanding that we must dive deeper than the angry victim stories buried within. When our story takes on a slightly different color and flavor, it loosens the grip of anger’s burn and we see that we have a choice to move into a more conscious response to it. Once we stop buying into our victim stories, we land in a transcendent fiery passion I call a “Higher GayPride Vibe.“

Inhabiting a Higher Gay Pride Vibe is an opportunity for the LGBTQ community to wholeheartedly celebrate our solidarity, our love, our liberation, and our freedom within society, as well as our social acceptance within realms that once went to fatal extremes to oppress us.

So let’s have fun this Pride! Let’s stand together as grateful beneficiaries of a political movement spurred on by intolerance, homophobia, and hatred during the I969 Stonewall Riots. Let’s rise up with dignity, grace, and respect for the courageous leaders who fought to secure protections and equal rights for LGBTQs. Let’s honor the space under the rainbow flags for all those who continue to work for equal rights and legal protections for all. Let’s stand in remembrance and prayer for LBGTQs who continue to suffer violence and oppression, homophobic bullying, denial of respect, and anti-gay bigotry globally. And last, let’s show compassion for our brothers and sisters marching with tears in their eyes and rage in their throats.