Everybody loves a parade. The queer community is no exception. Whether you live in a populated city, or if your town’s parade is more modest, it’s a very special occasion. For at least one day a year, you can be as fabulous and authentic as you want to be. And for some, it’s the only day a year they are able to be themselves. There is certainly nothing wrong with being spectacular, loud and proud, and letting yourself be heard. This can be said about any parade, it’s not exclusive to pride. But what happens when all the floats have been floated and the hands have been waived? What happens when everyone goes home, changes out of the outrageous costumes, removes the makeup, and returns to their normal lives?
What you may not see in the various community walkathons is that life can be uniquely difficult for the members of the LGBTQ+ community. We face stresses and pressures that go beyond the average 9 to 5. Not every person has a supportive community to help them cope with those challenges. For some, pride events are the only time someone can feel authentically themselves. Here is a peak into what happens after the parade is over, and what you can do about it:
There is always an emotional letdown after an emotional high. But for some, that low point was always there, the high covered it up for a few hours. After the balloons and party favors are cleared away, you are left with only you. And if you are suffering from depression, this can be a very lonely, scary thought.
What’s worse, many don’t know they are suffering from depression. Just as there are high-functioning alcoholics, there are also high-functioning depression sufferers. If you are having trouble making decisions, have feelings of hopelessness, and a low self-esteem, it might be time for you to take the high functioning depression test.
Sometimes, your friends are the first to know. It is the same way with addiction. Seldom is the one suffering aware that anything is wrong, at least at first. It is the people in their community who start asking questions about how you feel, or if there is anything you want to talk about. When your friends are treating you as if something is wrong, the best thing you can do is listen and follow up with someone who can help.
Marriage equality means marriage problems equality. You may have heard from the professionals that statistically gay relationships can be more stable than straight ones. That does not mean they are without their stressors. Same-sex marriages have all the issues as any other marriage because the common factor is marriage. There can be additional strain on a same-sex relationship for a large number of reasons that are unique to queer couples.
In certain parts of the US and around the world, it could be hard to find an extensive supporting community. It doesn’t help if close members of the family are against the relationship. Relatives might be acting in subtle and direct ways to break up the relationship. You don’t need a same-sex marriage to know what that is like.
When the community that should be the most supportive of you happens to be the one that is actively trying to do the relationship harm, it is hard to keep it together without having serious issues. When the parades are over, those pride marchers have to go home and face those unique challenges to with their marriage. It might not be fair. But it is a frequent reality all the same.
After the celebration, the responsible parties face what I call the doer’s dilemma. Do they enjoy the fruits of their labor by taking a break from the work? If they do, they risk not having time to set up the next event. Or, do they turn right around and start work on the next event at the risk of getting burned out? These marches, walkathons, and parades require a lot of hard work from a lot of people year-round. If the doers don’t keep doing, the party doesn’t happen. Next time, don’t just celebrate the event. Celebrate the people that bring you the event.
When they get home, the people who drive this community forward face depression, domestic issues, and the doer’s dilemma on a massive scale. It really does take the support of a village to make it all work.