Lancaster Pride 2019
In August, I had the privilege of being asked to photograph the Lancaster Pride celebration. The festivities started off kind of slow. I know some of the committee members were nervous that not a lot of people were going to come and outwardly participate in and support the LGBTQIA+ community. But as the night went on, and it started to get dark, the bands played in the bandstand and more and more rainbow-clad members of the community started to gather in the streets to celebrate human equality. By the time the glow parade started, there was a full block of people marching in the street with their glow-garb, flashing lights and their signs. At one point I looked back from the front of the parade, a half a block behind me, and I couldn’t even see the end as it was still coming around the corner! The people of Lancaster really showed up for each other.
That night was one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had. Being in that environment, surrounded by people of all ages, ethnicity and sexual orientation who had a space where they were unconditionally accepted, loved and encouraged to just be who they are was nothing short of magical. The most touching thing about the day for me was all the kids, our youth… the future of our world, who are so misunderstood and underestimated sometimes, free to be themselves. I honestly believe that the generations after mine are going to be the revolutionaries when it comes to human equality. They’ve grown up with a “you can be anything you want to be” message instilled in them. The generations who have known wars, hardship and discipline are elderly and will be gone soon. Yes, I know there are exceptions and those things all still exist! And maybe those things are even lacking these days. But, those things also bring illness inducing suppressed emotions, the opinion that not adhering to the popular opinion makes you a non-conformist rebel and the belief that not following a strict by-the-Book religion is damning. These kids who know and experience love and acceptance and who are taught how to work through emotions and who come together in flocks to make sure everyone feels welcomed somewhere are going to change the world. Witnessing what could possibly be the beginning of that unconditional acceptance in the community of Lancaster was absolutely an honor. And I cannot wait for the celebration next year.