Capture d’écran 2018-06-01 à 11.15.06

Speak Out: What Was Your First Pride Experience Like?

Image: Screencap from 5 Gum

The very first Gay Pride March was held on June 28, 1970 to mark the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, and over the decades the tone and tenor of the Pride March has changed. Nevertheless, it still has the power to inspire and empower the members of our community that need that extra push.

Take, for instance, the story of 86-year-old photographer, Martin. As told on the Youtube channel 5 Gum, Martin discovered both his love for photography and his homosexuality at the age of 16. While he could openly display his love for photography, he had to keep his homosexuality a secret.

The fear was so real for Martin that he only actually came out at the age of 85, a decision that he deeply regrets.

“I regret being such a sissy, so nervous, so bloody shy,” he says tearfully in the video. “I’ve missed the boat with regards to finding a lovely partner.”

Martin then gives some advice to today’s LGBT youth, saying: “If you ask me, if you want to set up with another young guy, go ahead, do it. You’ve got it. You owe it to yourself, and to him.”

The video then focuses on the young LGBT people inspired by Martin’s story, before finally shifting to images of Martin enjoying his first Pride parade.

“Go to it. Be together. It’s wonderful,” Martin narrates as the video ends.

Watch it in full below:

Inspired by Martin’s story, we want to ask all of our Adam4Adam blog readers what their first experience at Pride was like. How old were you when you first participated in one? Was it an exhilarating experience? Was it a nerve-wracking one? We would love to hear all your stories! Share them with us in the comments section below. Happy pride month everyone! 🏳️‍🌈

There are 39 comments

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  1. Boyd

    Marched in the Pride Parade in San Diego, CA in 1979.
    Was great to see so many marching for Pride and our rights.

  2. Josh

    Omaha, NE – 2013, along with many others in 2014 and 2015

    I did research projects for my composition and history classes in college about the PRIDE movement, because it’s sometbing I am very passionate about, so I understand what PRIDE is meant to be. Unfortunately, in my experiences, it’s become a huge excuse for many people to drink, party, and be stupid. I will continue to donate to organizations that actively fight or our safety and rights as homosexuals, but I will never attend a PRIDE event again.

  3. Mark

    Didn’t seem to be about being Proud of being LGBT and a productive member of Society, the same as everyone else, the Parade was more of a Fetish Parade, Straps and Harness clad , half naked Men, barely there shorts on gyrating behinds, Drag Queens and Female Impersonators… The Crowd walking around in Underwear, open Sex acts, Barrels of Lube and Condoms, yet Families brought Children to the event… In all that were is the Pride, Respect for the LGBT Community..?.. Sex shouldn’t be the point of the Day, People who’s Sexuality is Different and Diverse, who have the same Rights as anyone else, who hold positions in every walk of life, in every type of job who are due the Same Respect should be the Focus… Should have the LGBT Police, Firefighters, Goverment Officials and Law Makers and others Marching and on the Floats showing the World Community that we too belong, are no different than anyone else and that everyone of you interact Safely, Respectfully with one of us every day in one way or another in your daily routine…. Take the Sex out of PRIDE WEEK and put the Pride back in Sexual Diversity…..

  4. Will

    Felt very unwelcome and unwanted at my first pride. I was there with my ex and a few friends. We did not fit the description of “what a gay man” is supposed to look like. Because of this I have very little interest to go to any Pride day celebration.
    Nevertheless, I am Happy Martin was able to attend his first pride.

  5. Luigi Nonono

    Back in the old days, it was a protest, a demand for equal rights, it was about coming out and demonstrating gay love. Then it began to be exploited by porn producers and other businesses seeking to make money off the gay community. It devolved into a tacky parade and festival, and I have never gone since.

  6. T

    Martin’s story brought tears to my eyes. I feel sad for him and me too. I’m now in my 50s and feel ill never have that “special” person in my life. I’m happy for all of you that do!

  7. Christopher

    Back in 2013 was my first gay pride experience. Yet I was in the closet… But my ex-bf who happened to be my first bf wanted us to go to the parade in NYC. And I can recall there were tones of feelings happening on that day. One of the dominant feelings was fear, I was scared to death that my mom would turn on the news to watch me waving proudly the LGBTQ flag… And I tell you what. Caribbean parents are so homophobic that it gets insane sometimes. By the time the parade ends I was so happy, free and relaxed to know and face the reality that I am gay, I love who I am and my mom someday will have to deal with it. Fast forward, less that a year from that I came out to my mother and it was incredible, cause she was so open, happy, loving and accepting that we ended up crying… Tears of joy for my bravery and courage knowing her feelings about gays but yet had the strength to be completely honest with her. Deep inside of my heart I knew that she was gonna love me no matter the circumstances. But I remember that strength started to build up from my first gay pride ever. I didn’t go to the parade in 2014… I was in very dark place when my bf and I broke up and the memories were way to much to handle. It took me sometimes to heal, but since then I never miss a parade and enjoy Pride month.

    Happy Pride Month!

    Best regards,


  8. halequinsalem

    Well my experience was a memorable one to say the least! I came out as being bi-sexual, got drunk (on an empty stomach) passed out in the middle of liberty avenue and woke up vomitting! Went home with alcohol poisoning and had to be at work at 7 am the following day which I made it to!

  9. Brad

    Why would I? I don’t march in the white pride parade either, because I’m proud of those things that I accomplish, not who I just happened to be born. It’s foolish to have pride in something you had no control over.

    • Terry

      I think it’s not about having pride in something you have no control over as it is about having pride in the resilience of the LGBT community. As a black man, I would also attend black PRIDE too, because that’s something I am proud of and what it means to me

  10. J.D.

    Waiting for all the “Pride sis icky and can’t we all just be boring and normal” posts. lol! My first Pride was amazing. I was with my best friend (a bi woman) and we stumbled upon it. I had just figured out I was gay and to be handed all that Rainbow gear was very affirming. I could have walked on air. I was finally in a place where not only was I tolerated but celebrated. Plus Crystal Waters was there and she killed it of course.

  11. TiredOfIt

    It was 1970 in LA. The LAPD had been on a vicious campaign of attack on gay men for decades under Chief William Parker and later Ed Davis…staking out bars and arresting anyone who came out, raiding bars and clubs whete men were dancing with each other, publishing gay mens’ addresses and phone numbers in the LA Times, extortion rackets, beatings…and the guys had had enough. The Black Cat Riot in ’67 was the start of the fight in LA…two years BEFORE Stonewall. Morris Kight co-founded Christopher Street West in ’69 with Rev. Troy Perry and they organized tge first LA Gay Pride march a year later. It was social protest back then and it brought things to a head with Ed Davis and the LA City Council four years later. We marched down Highland Ave. from Hollywood Blvd. to CSW’s office down past Santa Monica Blvd., where a rally was held. We had 1000 people and got coverage on all eight LA TV stations that night. The war was on, and by 1978 Ed Davis was gone, and do were the raids and shakedowns. We made history. Now. LA PRIDE is sort of an overcommercialized tourist attraction…but it was all about social justice back then, and many paid a steep price for what you have now.

  12. jimdan2000 from a4a

    My first Pride was in Moscow, Idaho the summer of 2000. Although it was a small relatively liberal town in the very conservative state of Idaho there were a few people marching in the small parade up the sidewalk from “Friendship Square” to the town park not that far away. Along the sidewalk were a couple supporters who joined the parade as we passed by, by the time we reached the park we had grown to 18 people all carrying signs as we walked into the park. The protesters outweighed us several times over, people screamed at us, a couple ministers had megaphones to shout over the music the bloody death that we all deserved. Fortunately, the police made them stay away from us, although they continued throughout the festival. Several people were followed home by members of a local church who would just write silently in their notebooks as they stood outside their house. Calling the police did nothing because they were according to the police, on the sidewalk and didn’t speak to us. They did nothing to stop them, it was a rather contentious year as in January 1999 Will Hendrik had disappeared and his whereabouts were still unknown (They would later find some of his remains in 2002)
    So that was my first experience with a pride event in my life, it was impressive to see people willing to come together to push back against Christian terrorism in an area where being different was a real danger.

  13. Matt

    Pride is an anathema to the acceptance of gays. It reinforced viciously negative stereotypes and makes us look like clowns. I’m a professional man not a professional clown. I out but not OK with Pride being seen as a positive thing when it’s so detrimental.

  14. Mel

    Marched in the very first Chicago Pride event. We were all nervous at first, but the the small crowd got into it and we all relaxed. Very small parade. Can’t even remember if there were floats. Returned and marched in the 2010 Pride Parade in Chicago. Crowds so deep it was hard to even move. We were carrying the American Flag with veterans and it was so friggin awesome to be a part of it again. We were at the beginning of the Parade so got to go back and watch almost all of it. Felt so much pride in how far we have come.

  15. Stephen R Smith

    LOL – what a topic!

    I had just came out…. attended Milwaukee, WI PRIDE and they had Cher as an entertainer… saw things I never seen before; toys, straps, clothing and happy people.

  16. Chris

    Gay pride use to be about marching for rights. Today it seems like a pointless as today it’s more of “look at me I am gay” or a reason to “dress inappropriate”. It seems to be less about marching for gay rights and more of a meaningless show just for the sake of marching and having a party. That was my experience from going to a pride events in Boise ID and San Francisco CA. It has lost what it once was about and needs a new direction or needs to go away. I will never attend another one. I fully support a march for rights and freedom but not what Pride events have turned in to.

  17. latinlust69

    My first Prides were a hot chore as i worked for Hunter’s in Elk Grove Village. No sleep (we were a 4am club) and were in the parade. My first as a celebrant was in Houston. We were all cocktailed and sweaty . Great parade and lots of Hot, in more ways than one, men. Vibrant, exciting, and Way fun. No politics, just a celebration of being proud gay people!
    Also enjoyed all those salty nuts with my beers!

  18. Kim

    I attend my first PRIDE event a couple of years ago and it was a great experience. I think I have always known that I was gay, but haven’t really come to terms with it until the last few years. I can only second what Martin says, be honest with yourself as soon as you know and find a partner so you can build a life together. I am now 61 and wondering if I have missed the boat. Will I have the chance to find a partner to spend the rest of my life with now and live or am I doomed just to exist alone because I would not be totally honest honest with myself and come out earlier?

  19. Emmanuel

    First expercince is always the best One. You tjink so guys ? Well i do i remember it if it was yesterday it was a cold dizzle day in Long beacg califorana at first i didnt hace a ticket to get inn. So i was just lolig at all the beauiful men . as i being to fanstlize about this guy that walk by . i was like dang i need to get in there. . so i went to the store and as i was walking i look down with sadness and rightbthere on the floor there was a 5o dollar bill and as i rasie mybhead for lookijgbdown i look up wuth joybi ran and bought my entrance fee. So later that day i see the guy i was fantasy about we bump each other and right there we started talking . so affer a while we boughtva drink and spend the day together. He was by himslef as i was too. So we hit ti off right away. So tell me whatvpart is tge good part . mines after the i finish so imdark time came and as i was walking him to car he said u want to go to my room and then sure . as sooon as we walk in we starting kissing eachother as i got a inrectioin and he did too i start to suck him and so on. As he licks me all over we have the most best encoutner ever . i never forget ryan . for he was a f buddy for 4 months its was amazingg. So whuch is your ffaviote part of the story ??

    Mine waa ls finding the 50 because i woulfnt ran into ryan

  20. Joe

    The first Pride March I attended was in 1976 in New York City. I was 16. It was pretty amazing. I was nervous, but had a blast. Had a 3 way in a car right at the end of the parade route. Couldnt drink anywhere, but hit every cruising spot I knew of!!

  21. Mike

    I haven’t ever been to a pride event before. I know I’ll sound like a Debbie Downer here, but with all the segregation within our own community (i.e. “no fats, no femmes, no etc.”), I just don’t see the point in attending something that promotes equality and community, when we can’t seem to extend the feeling to other gays (and lesbians) alike.

  22. Lamar

    It was sheer exhilaration at 19-20yrs old, in Minneapolis, Minn., 80-81′ I had just moved away from home, got my first apt in “gay-heights” as the neighborhood was termed; a really trendy-energetic “uptown” area of the urban city. I tell you, it couldn’t of been better!

  23. fred

    went 3 times all were awful, 40 min line up for beer..guys falling over from being to high, vendors selling overpriced merchandise, loud and obnoxious.
    best was the night before parties in the clubs.
    after that, went up to a cottage for pride weekend.

  24. Don Hohoho

    Here’s a topic you should post on: pubic hair. Do you condition it or let it be like wool or brillo? Shampoo or soap? And if you are furry all over? Or is it better when your partners get rug burn?

  25. Cameron

    My first Pride was in San Fransisco CA in June of 1982. My mother had died the year before just before I had turned 21. After dealing with the fall out I took a job in the Bay Area(read that as escaped to) – I was based in Modesto and had a territory of about 300 miles each direction. I was in “The City “frequently for work and felt the excitement in the town building as Pride got closer and closer. As Pride approached I booked a hotel room in the Castro (not knowing how totally by lucky I was to get one) and proceeded to attend Pride with a couple new Modesto friends. It was an overwhelming shock at first- I had moved to Cali from Spokane WA (population about 110K at the time) So attending Pride where there were more folks on the street than the total town I grew up in was amazing. My first major image of pride was sitting at a corner cafe for breakfast and seeing a herd of nuns on roller skates and clown makeup swoosh right on past us (The beginning of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence) Then a gaggle of topless Lesbians on Motor Cycles (Dykes on Bikes) it was then I knew I was in a community and then I realized that I LOVED my community, it was the first recognition of that I was part of something bigger than the few faces I saw at the small bars in Spokane- That we were everywhere and there was a hell of a lot us. I sat fixated at the sights and sounds of my first Parade parade- on being close enough to touch Grace Slick and Paul Parker- to be able to drink Champagne and dance on the street and hoop and holler and hold hands and kiss other men in public…it was a day forever fixated in my mind. (Now my soapbox! that event was free- and a beautiful celebration of gay life and gay freedom- not corralled event that you are charged to major bucks attend and suffer the same booths as you get at the home show– Pride(s) all of them need to be free and open…not policed and put behind fences.

  26. PJ

    Rode on a float for the fox valley gay association. 1984. it was amazing i got the crowd so pumped. ended up in the chicago tribune newspaper. full face pix, name and all, live in a small town got some fun jabs about it. but every treated me the same. one of the most surreal day of my life!

  27. Terry

    My first PRIDE was interesting, and a bit of a culture shock. I never knew gay churches, or churches accepting of gay people. I even saw a group of Church Ladies for PRIDE and I was shocked

    I was just coming to grips with my homosexuality at the time and delving into the community as it was.

    Today I love seeing people expressing themselves and being themselves. Whether they are butch, sissy or in between. Whether they are half dressed, fully dressed or partially it doesn’t matter to me. I love myself, and I love seeing people express themselves in a great atmosphere.

    I know some people will complain about negative stereotypes, but nobody calls attention to the fact that most people are dressed like they could be going anywhere, it wouldn’t make the news

  28. Hunter0500

    My first Pride experience happened before I even acted on my own feelings. I was at a business conference several years ago in a major city in a meeting room a few floors up overlooking the street. As the “circus” went by, I listened as people described what we were seeing. “Mostly naked men.” “Many clearly wasted.” “Practically having sex in front of us.” “A bunch of freaky clowns.”

    It solidified my parking my feelings about men for several more years. I knew I was attracted to men, but also knew I was not part of that “circus”.

    Several years later I found a men’s site where I connected with guys who felt the same about the “circus”. Several of them are good buds to this very day.

    Good for you if you had a liberating, positive experience at a Pride event. I’m in the camp with many posters here. Pride events? … the circus has come to town.

  29. TommyTwoTones

    “We’re here, we’re queer, and we can spell ‘potato'”. Remember Dan Quayle? It was NYC in June, marching down Bleeker St in NYC. I was in the closet. A few years later, I was getting fucked on Pride March Day in a west side bar.

    What changed? The world. Me. I was out. Best thing I ever did. But I needed the courage of my crazy brothers, and my not so crazy brothers. I was so alone. I’m not alone any longer. Yes, we’re sometimes freaks. I try not to make str8 people cringe. Ok, sometimes. Why? I’m unique like every person. I need a place to exercise that. Then I’m back into my normal social posture. Don’t like it? Don’t go to Pride. Unlearning all of crap of my youth, the stuff about the wife, the 2.3 kids, the mortgage…. took decades. My 2.3 kids grew up. Turns out my wife knew I was queer and probably gay, and so did my parents and even my kids. I tried to maintain that str8 posture because it was expected of me, but that was wrong, so very wrong. Honesty is the best policy. Express yourself, and Pride might be your venue. Takes courage for the older folks, like me. Just do it, with love. Worked for me, and I know it’s complicated. Hugs to you all as you think about being queer this month.

  30. Rob

    I was born in South Texas but had lived in Wisconsin since I was 15. I decided to move to Austin Texas in 1994 and have been out from the moment I stepped off the grey hound bus! My first pride parade around 1996 (est), I was like 26yo, was a great day, sun was out, felt empowered, love being out and gay with all my fellow queers. Was awesome marching down Congress to the Capital, although I was riding my bike. Did get sun burned, my back was lobster red, peeled for the next few days. All you could see was a sea of gays and our supporters, thousands of us, beaming with pride. In the new century I would move to San Diego and march there a few times. Don’t hold yourself back, come out, you will be loved, you will have friends and people who care about you. Don’t let fear stop you. I told myself that once I came out I would never have a “there’s something I have to tell you” conversation with anyone. Be out and proud. There isn’t anything more empowering than being who you are.

  31. FreeSpirit

    My first time was in the 1998 New York City Gay parade. My good friend, Bob, took me and his other good friend, David, to the parade. We walked all along the route and had a good time. Finally, near the end of the parade route, we stopped to watch the parade and people passing by.

    A short time later, I saw my former engineering college classmate and now work colleague, Max, walking towards us holding hand with his wife (a real female, Max is bisexual), and with a male friend walking with them. What was strange was that for the past several months, I was having a deep crush on Max at work and I could see that the feeling was reciprocal. In college, I was not attracted to Max although he has always been a good-looking man.

    The weather was nice that day and Max was showing his worked-out body with a white tank top and white shorts, which made it possible for me to see Max’s legs for the first time : full, beautiful, and well-shaped legs. I know many women would envy him for his legs. Max’s friend (who I did not know) was somewhat playfully effeminate so I assumed that he was gay. Since Max came to the parade with his wife, it means that she knew about his bisexuality. All three were smiling and Max waved to me.

    However, I did not pursue a relationship with Max because I tended to give a wide berth to bisexual men who were married to women as far as relationships were concerned. Now, I truly think that I made a mistake with Max since his wife would probably not have interfered with the relationship. Some people might say : “how can you accept being the “mistress”? Firstly, in this case his wife would be fully aware of it so it would not be a “secret” relationship. Secondly, one does NOT pick a man for relationship just like one picks up a sea shell on the beach. There are certain attributes, traits of character, etc. that I look for in a man in terms of relationship and in this case, it turned out that Max had them unlike many of the unmarried gay or bisexual men that I had met. Now, picking a man for hookup is a TOTALLY different matter and, in this case, a good dick is a good dick is a good dick. Also keep in mind that a man you meet in a hookup can turn out to be the type of man you are looking for in a relationship.

    From time to time, I still fantasize about Max and I, making love face to face, and locked in a deep wet kiss while he is drilling me with his manhood. Oh Max, if you are reading I like it “au naturel and milky”.

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