Yesterday, I did something so quintessentially San Franciscan: I danced in the Pride parade.
But first, some background…
I am a straight, cisgender, white female. When I received an email invitation to join a contingent of dancers from around the Bay Area, I was itching to sign up. But I hesitated. This year’s parade and celebration theme is A Celebration of Diversity, and, well, I’ve never felt particularly diverse.
I asked a friend (and member of the LGBTQ community) for her take. She thought it was great, so I reiterated my concerns. “Well,” she said, “I think you’d want to do it even if it wasn’t for Pride. But that’s not a bad thing.”
Fair point. Joining was being true to myself (and love for choreography!). Still, I sought a third opinion and emailed the contingent coordinator. My note:
I recently received the mass invite to join the dance group for Pride, and it looks like it will be a blast. That said, as a straight white gal, I’m sensitive about the purpose of the parade and don’t want to step on any toes. …and now I’m aware that that sounds like the exact opposite of inclusion, the irony of which is not lost on me 🙂 I suppose the question is: is this open to all who want to participate?
Yes, the contingent is open to any and everyone! The day is indeed an opportunity to support and advocate for those in the LGBTQ community, but we can all be allies no matter how we identify personally.
Done deal. I signed up. Two weeks of sweaty rehearsals, writing out the choreography in a notebook to help me better understand the sequences, and much-improved movements later, it was showtime.
We. Had. A. Blast. The 209 other participants and I danced our way down Market Street to the judge’s grandstand at Civic Center, performed, and were released in anti-climactic fashion.
And then, the aftermath.
Much of my life I prefer to conduct offline, but something like this, I reasoned, deserved to be shared on social media. At first, it was all me me me. “Hey, look what I did!” “Isn’t my blue tutu awesome?!”
But then I scrolled past the post of a colleague, who eloquently stated:
Straight/cis at Pride? Stand in support, allyship, solidarity. But stay humble, give space, don’t pull focus.
Shit. I failed the #1 rule of attending Pride.
I focused on the what, not the why.
As a communicator, I’m always striving to get to the why behind each story. To spin it a little for reader engagement. To focus on benefits, not features. To get to the WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) in every corporate update, promo email, and info sheet. The company is upgrading data storage? Yeah, cool, but why should people care?
Sure, this was a personal Facebook post and not an intranet article, so I was allowed a little vanity, right? Well…maybe. It’s not like this was a shot from a birthday party. In fact, when it came down to it, this wasn’t my party at all.
So I frantically went to editing a post linking to our performance video. That’s not quite right — try again…. Hmm, that’s not good either…. Four edits later, I wasn’t “participating in the parade,” I was “supporting Pride.” Still not perfect, but closer to the intent.
Even in our personal lives, it’s all about context.
Spin doesn’t have to have a nasty connotation — it really just means there’s an intention behind your message and that you’ve presented the information in a way that effectively communicates that intention.
By applying this concept to what I’ve shared on social media over the past couple days, I’ve missed the mark. But I’m working on it.
I’m honored to have been a part of such a enthusiastic display of love and inclusion. Many thanks to my fellow dancers and the other 200+ floats, trucks, and groups of marchers who contributed their time and energy to this event. It was an epic day.
And our dance contingent? We won a ribbon for Absolutely Fabulous Marching Contingent. Peep our dance moves!