Talking to Strangers: DC Pride Edition
Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.
by Elissa Gross
Michael, 27, and Jamie, 33
Are you two from here?
Jamie: I'm from Southern Virginia. But I live in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Michael: I'm from Seattle, but I now also live in Harrisonburg and work as a librarian.
So are you just visiting DC for Pride?
J: Yep. We only live like an hour or two from here. I don't come here nearly often enough, but this is the second time I've been for Pride. I came originally in 2005, and it's just gotten so much bigger, so many more people are showing up than they did back then. It was easier to get closer to the parade back then, but it's really awesome to see so many people out here. Everyone here is so friendly and nice.
M: This is my first Pride, so my experience thusfar has been thirty minutes long. It's awesome, but it's hot. But I really love it.
Me too! Are you two friends or a couple or something undefinable?
M: We're a couple now. We met online. It's been about two months now.
What's the gay community like where you live?
J: We have a very small one. We do a lot of drag shows to raise money for an AIDS network that funds research. And there's a university nearby, JMU, which has a strong gay/straight alliance.
And what have your observations about the gay community in DC been?
J: I've never had any fear of being up here and walking in public, holding hands with a guy. I've never had any fear about that. Even in the "shadier" areas, it still feels like a very open place where people are very accepting.
M: Being from a big city originally, Seattle, this is more what I expected it to be like. I sometimes get nervous in a small town like Harrisonburg. I just don't know how out to be.
What's your advice for LGBT people in small towns? What's the best way to reach out and date or become part of a community?
J: I met most of my friends through jobs and stuff, because I couldn't be in the closet if I wanted to. It's just not me. People have always approached me, and we've bonded over it. So I would just say, be yourself. You really shouldn't be afraid of what people think of you. What anybody else thinks of you is their issue, not yours.
M: I would say the same! Being yourself is so important, and if you're having difficulty finding people who support you, it's not the end of the world.
J: There are people out there. There's always somebody out there who cares. Whether or not they're in the same town as you, you can always contact people by email or phone who can direct you to the proper help. There's always help out there. It's never a reason to give up. Nobody should ever give up. It's so sad. Keep being yourself and if you need help, ask for it. Every time you ask for it, it's there.