Sitting here listening to Skyscraper and trying not to cry because exactly three years ago (down to almost the exact hour), I reached my arm out to Demi Lovato as she sang this song, she saw me, and reached her arm back out to me.
We had a moment for a few seconds. I still remember distinctly the image of her eyes staring down at me.
It was one of my favorite days of my life so far. It was a beautiful day characterized by a beautiful moment. I love Demi so much <3
You know, sometimes you have plans.
Like saving enough money to fly out East for two weeks during the summer, so you can road trip from North Carolina to Tennessee to volunteer at the Bonnaroo Music Festival solely so you can fulfill your dream of seeing Paul McCartney perform live.
Then sometimes those plans don’t pan out.
But then, randomly, without planning for it, several months later, you end up seeing Paul McCartney perform live for free in your city - the self-proclaimed city of dreams - and you suddenly you don’t care at all that those other plans never panned out.
Or you keep missing Demi Lovato concerts, which shouldn’t be a big deal because you have seen her five times, after all, but back in 2009, you vowed you’d see her perform every time she came to whatever city you lived it, and you’d been making good on that for four years. But then 2013, and you just can’t seen to make it happen, and it’s a little upsetting on principal because you’ve her every single year since you became a fan, and time’s running out to keep up that yearly trend.
But at the very end of the year, you end up meeting her and not in that predictable, cliche “meet ‘n greet” way that everyone around you was meeting her, but a legitimate interaction where you bantered and made her laugh - not a polite titter, but her genuine, loud, goofy trademark laugh and okay, so you didn’t get to see her in concert that yet, but actually meeting her was a million times better.
I know it’s cliche, and I know it’s been said a million times, but sometimes things don’t work out how you want then, when you want them, but then with a little bit of patience and time, you get what you wanted after all - sometimes in a much better manifestation than you previously anticipated. Disappointments are temporary, and perhaps I can only really speak from the perspective of my own life and personal experiences, but things come through eventually.
It’s a nice hope to hold on, too. And I know there’s a growing unpopularity with the concept of a inter-personal God involved intimately in existence of humanity, and I know my anecdotes about meaningful celebrity encounters will convince no unbeliever - and that’s not my intent at all, but I just know so evidently that there’s someone much greater than all of us this, watching out for me in simple and huge things, and it’s a knowledge that allows me to breathe a lot easier throughout my days and not hold on to my plans so tightly.
Because things will work out, you know? I’m pretty sure of it. You deal with the downs until the ups come around.
It was amazing.
Such a simple, but effervescent joy.
To see all of these people like me, marching down the street.
The outcasted becoming the celebrated.
The outpouring of love from communities who stereotypically put us down.
The immediate connection; instantaneous formations of solidarity. A bond created right there on the spot, fostered by a spiritual understanding that we’ve come from the same place and now stand together in the same place. Strangers, yet we are all one.
The good friends beside me that I’ve had for years; straight, yet so so supportive.
The smile that wouldn’t leave my face.
That sense of belonging that constantly alludes me, finally found on a Sunday afternoon in West Hollywood.
The feel of freedom. The true mark of inclusiveness. My Sundays used to belong to church, but I could never breathe as easily in those sanctuaries as I could on that street.
My former community who promised “come as you are”, but pushed me away when I couldn’t conform into “then become what we want” - they left me shaken and unsteady; uncomfortable and unsettled. Failing to emulate the comfort, love, acceptance, understanding and empathy that I truly and honestly experience in Christ.
Yet this new community - a family I was adopted into without a moment of hesitance with open arms and big hearts has wrapped its arms so tightly around me. And I can just settle as the burdens that have forever set me apart slowly evaporate off of the skin that I’m now fully comfortable in.
That was Pride.
Not just an event, but swelling in my heart as I took in the beautiful community of diverse people surrounding me. Battered by the atmosphere of oppression cultivated by the powers that be, yet standing so strong despite of it; smiling so wide, despite of it.
Pride in myself. Not the pride whose antithesis is humility, but the pride whose enemy is shame. Society and culture exacerbate what makes me different then villainize it. Unable to separate it from myself - because though not all of who I am, it certainly is an integral part of me - I’d at times be so self-frustrated. I’d hate myself.
But not anymore. And today represented that transformation well. I am who I am. I accept who I am. I love who I am. And I know now that my sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of. I can be proud of it - that subtle, assuring, affirming pride - because it’s apart of me.
Today, that pride was further affirmed and esteemed. All the burdens of being different, being a minority, being discriminated, being judged disappeared. In those moments, I could breathe easy. I was comfortable. I was settled.
And then at the very end, the grand finale, the woman who made me really confront my sexuality to begin with, who I’ve been enamored with before I even realized I was gay, tying it all together.
You have no idea how perfect that made everything. How confident that makes me in the belief that God has a strong hand in my narrative; He tosses me special touches every so often. Barely out a year, this was my first Pride event, and to have it punctuated by Demi Lovato just made it all the more meaningful. I lose my eloquence because I can’t even describe how much her being there means.
It was really just so perfect to see Demi today, ten feet away from me, at a celebration affirming my identity. It was like my two worlds coming perfectly together.
In many ways that I know people won’t understand, she’s given me so much already. But her vocal and very present support of our community; her stand of solidarity with us - it really makes me think that I was meant to fall into her voice the way I did five years ago, so seemingly randomly at the time, if it would lead us here now.
Kind of in the way I made a new best friend five years ago, before I had any remote inkling that I was gay (okay, okay, that’s a lie - there were definite signs that I blatantly ignored and swallowed back) who then ended up being my greatest supporter as I’ve come into my sexuality and was sitting there right with me at Pride today (That would be Nina).
So I’m grateful. I’m happy. I’m relaxed. Today was such a monumental and amazing day. The days that remind me that in spite of the worst, everything really will be alright.
So thank you, Pride, for giving me that today.
And thank You, God, for how You continually tie everything so wonderfully together and constantly affirm Your love for me with how You breathe it so diligently and evidently into my life.
Ok, Disney Channel fanatics of the late-00’s era!
Can we talk about how Demi is going on tour with MKTO? Who is half Tony Oller, who she was As The Bell Rings with.
Things come full circle. Former Disney Stars in total harmony <3