After Pride, Reflections on Hope

by Dr. David Baker-Hargrove

Before Orlando’s Come Out With Pride 2021 celebrations, I was feeling unsteady. Over one year into the pandemic, what did we have to be proud of? Florida was coming out of its worst COVID spike yet, and I felt back-slapped by the promise of life going back to some kind of normal. I knew that we needed to move forward as a community, but was this the right way? What were we celebrating? Was it even OK to celebrate? The stakes seemed very high. 

The day of Come Out With Pride 2021, I had lunch downtown at Eola Wine Company with Robert and my daughter. We sat outside on the sidewalk, watching the excitement start to build on Central Avenue in front of us. We were having so much fun, in fact, that we almost missed our call time to get on the 26Health float. The three of us sprinted to the staging area in front of the library and made it just as the float rolled off into the parade. 

It ended up being a perfect day. The weather, the crowds, the festival in the park, the parade orchestration, the joy: as we rode through the streets, I was struck by how even though we’d done this before in many previous Pride celebrations, it all felt new again. 

Coming back big for this year’s Pride showed us a way forward. Ever since that weekend, I’ve been in a better mindset, better equipped to deal with the challenges that COVID continues to present. There are so many reasons why we need Pride–equal rights, equal representation, a sense of belonging–and we must not lose momentum for who were are and why we matter. We need these events, and we need each other. 

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