The Real Pueblo Pride

Going home was a huge thing for me.  And even though I’ve been struggling with my sexuality for the past few weeks/months/years, it was a weekend that held significance and gravity for me.

Some people have their fun making jokes about how small the town is (it’s really not) and how they think it’s not racially diverse (48% of Pueblo is Hispanic).  It is also overwhelmingly Democratic and so the town cares about issues like gay rights, worker’s rights and equality, but like most cities has struggled to enact policies and laws that truly reflect these values and predictably the rest of its citizens still have a lot of catching up to do in their interpersonal dealings.

It is because of those values that I felt I needed to go home and attend Pride.  The parade wasn’t long.  Only 4 blocks.  It wasn’t well attended…most of the people who want to be seen supporting gay pride were in the parade itself.  But the fact that there was a pride parade at all, an afternoon festival, performances and an organization behind it all is remarkable in and of itself.  Walking down the street in front of the building where my husband proposed to me, nearby my old workplace and close to my friends and family was significant.  So much history.  So much of myself there.

When we were done with the parade, I walked away from my gay entourage for a while to go listen to the proclamation made by the city council and county commissioners.  A lot of people blow off those pieces of paper calling it lip service.  Calling it “placating the masses”.  Me?  I listened to the words of equality, of appreciation and acceptance and I got choked up.

I’ve been involved with politics since I was 12 years old.  But one the first campaigns I was ever involved with in those early years was the opposition to Amendment 2 here in Colorado.  I had only found out that year that my brother was gay, but it seemed unjust and plain discriminatory even as I entered high school.  I was also repressing my own bisexuality at  the time, but I didn’t see Amendment 2 affecting me personally.  I remember making an impassioned speech to friends about why Amendment 2 was wrong and enduring either their ignorance or their complete disregard for this community.

The statistics for my home town estimate that .2% of the population are gay or lesbian.  And 68% of the population is Catholic.  Another 16% are Evangelical.  The number of people who self-identify in a predominantly hispanic, catholic and thus somewhat unfriendly community is likely severely underreported.  All the more reason why I was so proud to see the kind of support and budding awareness that I did at the hometown Pride.

I know for many of my gay and lesbian friends who grew up there it was hell and it was torture to put the mask of “normalcy” on each day.  I didn’t have to live through that to that extent.  I could always blend in and appear “normal” whether it be because my attraction to women could be hidden easily or because my background as Latina could be easily disguised by my white-sounding name and my fair skin and freckles. I could blend in, but my friends, from my first boyfriend to my gay brother could not.  It is not where it should be.  The whole town should come out and celebrate our friends, our family and indeed, ourselves.  But it was enough to hear the words spoken, to see a proclamation and to know that progress is happening.

That is the first part of my post.  But the second half has to do with what happened when I found my Pueblo roots again.  I went down to Pueblo with three gay men, brothers in Leather on many levels.  Wonderful men that I adore.  They went for their own reasons, but I’m not sure they could relate to the reason why I went home.  I went home to connect with my roots, my values, my dreams, my confidence.  If you’ve been following my posts here, you know that I’ve been re-evaluating my sexuality.  My sexual confidence started in Pueblo.  And I knew that it would be an essential step to redefining it.   This will always be part of my identity, so why not make Pueblo part of my new one.

Back in 2007, shortly after I had been outed I received the following message from an old classmate who had been there when things got rough.  Here’s what he told me: Yo Rose you got to (I hate to use this term but here it goes) pull yourself by your boot straps (thigh boots or regular) cause if you don’t you are only going to sink deeper into this depressed state. WAKE UP!!!! It is your time to shine, your people are coming to your town for the big party and you don’t want to be left in the dust… Time to pull some of that Bessemer ghetto style that’s deep inside you, that you thought you lost, and get crazy on some bitches… You are you, nothing is going to change that so don’t you ever try and fit into a mold that is not you…GHETTO BABY…BESSMER STYLE…. You should never underestimate the power of denial….. SO NOW IT IS TIME TO WOMAN UP AND TAKE CONTROL ONCE AGAIN OF WHOM YOU ARE AND CONCENTRATE ON BUILDING YOURSELF INTO THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BE…. Let’s get going I know one person from Bessemer who knows you can do it!!!!!!!
Lots of Love!!!!!

Yes,  that was 2007.  I couldn’t listen then.  Couldn’t make that a part of myself.  But that is my background.  That is where I came from and who I am.  He could see it then…and I wish he could see it now.  Because I’m finally getting it.

We were there for less than 24 hours.  We went to the local gay bar and made more of a scene than I thought was possible.  I got compliments about my corset and got attacked by drag queens who insisted on further tightening the corset to make me look even more fabulous. Mr. Leather got compliments on his rope work on a shirtless Pup.  We had a great time and at the end of it all we ended up back in the hotel room.  You would think we would have ended up in an immense orgy (which we decided the code word for is “ice cream social”), but it was actually a quiet, comfortable and almost sweet scene. Affectionate and fun…and enough to show me some interesting lessons as I choose to rebuild myself.
From that weekend, from that scene, from the friends I connected with, I found these lessons…which ironically are based on the values of this community and this background I am so very proud to be a part of.
1) While I have good friends who have offered to play, who have offered to provide experiences for me, I’ve been beating myself up for not having the courage to pull the trigger on these events.  However, it’s okay for me to give myself permission not to play when I don’t feel the connection that draws me to that person.  It has nothing to do with trust or their abilities, but everything to do with going with what is natural and organic with that person.  It’s just as important for me to give myself permission not to play as it is to give myself permission to play.
2) Likewise it is important for me to not define what a connection is.  One specific one I can think of defies most expectations and not at all what I would expect.  But to remain open and available to what is possible, I need to be less concerned with meeting some constructed idea of what it “should” be.  If it is cuddles and kisses, that is a valid relationship and it doesn’t have to have  a name or a label attached to it…just like the occasional sex and play doesn’t have to be termed more than that.  If it makes me happy in that moment and I feel present and fulfilled that matters more than anything so why increase my anxiety by trying to find a name for it?
3) It’s okay to take a step back to use my talents, skills and gifts to gain the full picture about someone before choosing to engage further. I don’t lose anything by keeping enough distance to see the fullness of a situation or a person.  I can do that simply by touching them, getting a feel for their energy and who they are.  It’s  perfectly fine for me to sit back, observe, watch and listen before I engage further.  It’s better for me and better for them.  These are my talents and play into the first two lessons.

The beauty of this is these are all lessons I learned the hard way while growing up in Pueblo, in developing my sexuality, in discovering my calling.  All these times I was trying to figure out how to “get back to where I was”, I hadn’t connected to the core values.  And frankly, I had to break everything down in order to uncover those values and build something new.

Is this new?  Yes and no.  These are the lessons of an experienced woman.  Someone who has lived through these experiences over and over.  A wise woman who still cares immensely about sex and expression and integrity.  But someone who wants more…far more than I have had in the past.  And I think these lessons, based on how I was raised and what I believe in (the need for acceptance and freedom) help me eliminate some of the guilt and shame of all the times i’ve deviated from that core.   It’s a change in the approach, a more simplified way of me finding and holding that joy and happiness.

 The woman I want to be is someone that people feel comfortable engaging with. Someone who people feel they can open up with and find a thread or a reflection of who they really are.  I have always been that. The person who sees the most intimate side of people, the most vulnerable and keeps it safe, but still challenges people to bring their full self to the table.
And frankly, that is what I need. I don’t need empty promises of play. I don’t need quick thrusts designed to get off. What I need is for someone to show me they feel safe, they feel comfortable and that they are present enough to bring themselves to the table as fully as they can.

It’s what I wanted when I lived in Pueblo…and why I feel somewhat dissatisfied with what I’ve found in the past several years. It’s not that others were disappointing me, it’s that I kept setting my expectations on the wrong thing.  I wasn’t actually looking for the connection…I was looking for the wrong kind of fulfillment.  What fills my heart with joy is when someone shows me their full self, even if it completely eschews their own expectations of themselves or what they think society wants from them.  It fills me with such bliss and connection and sexual-intellectual-spiritual communion that there is no substitute.  And to ensure these things happen, I need to accept that I cannot fuck or play with just anyone.  I can also meet someone where they are, so long as they feel comfortable enough to provide that assurance that they feel safe and loved by me.

This is still evolving, but today was a crystallizing day for me….and I feel better for it.

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