This past Saturday was the Akron Pride Festival held in downtown Akron and Lock 3. I was extremely honored to be asked to write the introduction to the 2021 Akron Pride Guide.
Marilyn and I also participated in the Equity March for the first time. We marched with our new-found church, the Harmony Springs Christian Church, in Green. The acceptance and inclusivity in church activities and events that we have experienced there has been truly amazing. However, I did not expect the march to be such a moving and emotional experience.
My emotions no longer seem to be locked up since my doctor and I have gotten my hormone levels back to where they should be, and for that I am extremely grateful. The parade turned into a sacred experience for me, and I started to cry as we marched by the cheering crowds lining the sidewalks along Main Street in downtown Akron. It was kind of like one of those dream sequences that you see on a TV show where everything fades into a misty haze in the background, and I was the only one marching in the parade. I felt as though the crowd was cheering for me and the choice that I made to live openly, honestly, and authentically as a proud transgender woman. I am still trying to wrap my head around it.
Here is the essay that I wrote for the Pride Guide:
RAINBOW ON THE BATHROOM RUG: WHAT PRIDE MEANS TO ME
By Barbara Marie Minney
“I’ve lived a whole lifetime as someone that I wasn’t.”
When I think of these words, I am always overwhelmed with emotion. At a recent poetry reading, I began sobbing uncontrollably after expressing them as a way of introducing myself. I did not know that I was trans. I grew up as a boy and lived as a man for the first 60 years of my life. I did not know how to be anything else. I think of these years as both the wandering years and the wondering years. I wandered through a gender wasteland from the mountains and hollows of West Virginia and the plains and valleys of Ohio, through Stonewall and Pulse, before finally landing in Akron. At the same time, I was always wondering who I really am.
About a year ago, a rainbow started showing up in the afternoon on the rug in our bathroom. I understood that it was the sun’s reflection through the window, but I was fascinated, nonetheless. It seemed like a sign that I had followed the rainbow logic and discovered my genuine and veritable self on the other side, which is more precious than any Leprechaun’s pot of gold.
Each one of us is special. We all have extraordinary and distinctive stories to tell. We all have the innate ability to live lives that inspire others in a meaningful way. For one day, we come together regardless of race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or political affiliation to celebrate our diversity and inclusivity, and to let the world know that we have survived another year, that we are still here, and that we are not going away. Without Pride, we would have no shoulders to cry on, no friends to wipe away the dysphoric tears, and no one with whom to share our rejections, feelings, thoughts, passions, and triumphs. In other words, no community.
Most of all to me, Pride means self-love, self-esteem, self-respect, and self-validation. Things at which I am usually not particularly good. It is a chance to celebrate the diversity of others, but also to rejoice in my own uniqueness as a proud trans woman. I may have lived a lifetime as someone that I wasn’t, but now my goal is to live authentically, truthfully, and courageously as the woman that I now know I was meant to be in whatever time I have left on this earth. Whoever said “Pride goeth before a fall” had it all wrong. What they should have said is:
“Without Pride, we all will fall.”
Barbara Marie Minney is a transgender woman, poet, writer, speaker, and quiet activist. She is a retired attorney and originally from West Virginia. Now based in Tallmadge, Ohio, her first collection of poetry entitled “If There’s No Heaven” was the winner of the 2020 Poetry Is Life Book Award and the Akron Beacon Journal Best Northeast Ohio Books 2020. It is available at www.poetryislifepublishig.com. Follow her at www.barbaramarieminneypoetry.com.