Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stepping OUT of my comfort zone!

They were cheering at us. The screams were deafening at times. They waved rainbow flags in the HOT sun. I'm talking about this year's Chicago Pride Parade....and I was in it!

The city department I work for was marching in this year's gay pride parade and I signed up to take part this past weekend. Me! ME!

I didn't want fear to keep me from getting out there and quite honestly who knows if I'll even be alive next year so I wanted to try while I had the chance. Not many can say they were actually IN the parade. So to have such special access was too tempting to pass up.

Before the event kicked off that day, I walked through Boystown to get a feel for what I was getting myself into. It was unusual being outside the barricades watching people reserve their spots when later on I'd be on the inside instead.

The parade route was over 1 1/2 hours of walking and when it finally began at noon I was in total survival mode.

You have to understand that I have major issues with crowds and I loathe sunny weather. Well there were people EVERYWHERE and the sun was out! But I did it anyway (with help from my sunblock spf 100).

It was so hard for me being around so many people but as my department walked through the procession I made it a point to wave and smile and make eye contact with everyone I could.

Thankfully out of the 25 of us, five were really outgoing and got the crowd revved up as we went by so it made it easier to engage the spectators when they so openly engaged us.

My anxiety levels were through the roof but overall this unique experience was more exciting than depressing.

I was quite disappointed I didn't meet anyone though. Everybody was either already paired up or part of a group. If I can't even meet ONE person at an event with hundreds of thousands of gays what chance do I have in my everyday, boring life? I fear I may be doomed to be alone and unloved forever.

But I understand. I would pass myself up too. Many times over. And it's difficult when you don't have any friends outside of work and have to do these types of things solo.

After my coworkers reached the end of the parade and slowly dispersed, I just wanted to go home, rest up, and cry a bit. It had been such a long day. Sensory overload for sure.

Would I have liked for things to turn out differently? Sure. Could I have been more outgoing with the crowd? Yes.

But I keep telling myself that I did really good this past Sunday. I stepped out of my comfort zone big-time and made it through intact. And maybe that's a good place to start.


Randuwa said...

Dean! You Go Guy! I'm SO proud of you! Happy Pride, the first of MANY more, I'm sure.

naturgesetz said...

Congratulations on overcoming your fear of crowds and your dislike of sunshine! Well done. Keep up the good work, now that you've proved that you can do it.

As for not meeting anyone, I wouldn't worry too much about it. There are different personality types. Someone who is very outgoing can do that sort of thing on an initial encounter. But for those of us who are more reserved, I think it takes several encounters. So we need a work situation, or an organization, or even a regular commute — something where we meet the same person over and over and can gradually get acquainted.

BosGuy said...

They say life is what you make of it. Sounds like you made the most of the opportunity. I attended Chicago Pride years ago and LOVED it.

Cheers from Ptown,

JuJu said...

Well done Dean!! You should be commended. Stepping outside our comfort zones is NOT an easy thing. But, you did it. I'm very happy for you!!

Now, I'm going to lecture you. You must stop thinking of yourself as "one to pass by." You are a talented, fun, caring compassionate person. You deserve to be loved and to love. You know that old adage, God don't make no junk.

And, I firmly believe that when you're looking for it (a partner) you don't find it. They usually just fall from out of the sky somewhere.

Dean, build on this day. xxx

mel said...

It is a great place to start.

BB said...

Dean you need to stop being so down on yourself. You are a handsome young man and I'm sure you have a lot to offer to lots of people. Get involved in self esteem support groups or something. You are worthy just as much as the next guy. Hugs!!!

Anonymous said...

Good for you Dean! I'm sure you brought a lot of class to the parade. I'm not very keen on dealing with large crowds either. Although I do like a good parade, sometimes pride parades get a little tacky because of all the queens in jock straps and stilettos. That part of the parade I don't really care for. It sends the wrong message to those who are already bigots against us. Unfortunately, they think all gay people are like that.

But we are SO much more!!

Marty said...

Good for you getting out of your comfort zone! I'm really glad the experience was a good one overall (even with sensory overload), it sounds like it would have been really neat to be a part of.

Don't be so hard on yourself, you're a beautiful person and life will work itself out one of these days *hug*

Unknown said...

Congrtats! Stepping outside your comfort zone is not easy. But you did it and with great success! My advice, if you want to take it,is that you should take this expereince and use ti in your every day life. Try stepping out of yvur comfort zone a little more often and with smallr things. You'd be surprised at what you might find!

Anonymous said...

YAY DEAN!!! I'm so proud of you! That had to be terribly difficult, and I'm really excited that you had a chance to join in on the festivities! I'm REALLY proud! That's really awesome.
Big smiles.
By the way! I thought of you today! I went to a building, and guess what they had?
I immediately thought of you.

Rakesh said...

WoW! I am speechless. That was a very bold and proud step for you to go out in such a crowded area. Proud of you. :)

Caleb said...


I'm glad you marched! I had a few friends in the Parade and they all had fun.

And if you'd been on an Exploding Doughnut float I would would've cheered pretty loud to get your attention. ;)

Keep putting yourself out there, and eventually you'll find someone. Though you should probably try some smaller events first! lol

GayHermit said...

You really need to stop beating yourself up so much. There are many more ways to judge your life as a positive thing or success than just whether or not you have a boyfriend. This blog is a perfect example. I am approximately ten years older than you and don't have the couraqe you show here, by having this blog. I have considered starting one, but am just too scared.
Continuing with that line of thought, I have never been to any pride parade and have been out of the closet (on one level or another) for more than twenty years. I also haven't been on a date (with anyone, male or female) in about that long as well. I share the shy issue with you and might be an even bigger hermit than you. (The fact that I am picky and refuse to put up with any shit just to say I have a boyfriend makes things even more difficult. It also shows I have some self-assurance.)
{Self-assurance and Self-esteem can be two totally different things by the way.}
Judging by what I have read about you over the last year or so, you took a big step by being in the parade. Please celebrate that rather than trashing yourself for what you didn't do, but think you should/might have been able to.
Meeting someone at a parade would be very difficult for a lot of us. You can't make a personal connection, without being able to get personal with someone. Which is extremely difficult to do when you are marching in the center of the road and everyone else is watching from the sidelines. ;-)
You seem like you are aware of the challenges you have to deal with. Maybe try a little harder to pat yourself on the back saying well done more often, rather than slapping youself in the face saying loser as often as you might.
I am extremely well aware that this is easier to say than do. Especially for us creative soul types. But, you have to start somewhere, right?
(Now, I have to go copy this to my computer and address it to myself. {Eye Roll with regards to being aware of my own issues.} Sometimes it is amazing what you can learn from yourself when you are trying to be helpful and supportive to others. You just have to remember that the positive you try to give out can also be given back to yourself.)

Great big HUGS to you for being in the pride parade!
Good Job!!!

Brian Coey said...

Wow, Dean! I do have to say that you have been so brave.I had to re-read your entry to be sure I got it rioght, but sure enough a smile broadened across my face as I read on. "Oh boy," I thought; "Dean was so brave!" And you are, you know, Brave and couragious. Sometimes we see life outside of ourselves and for a moment it can excite or scare us. It has been an experience for you Dean but givin your artistic nature and obvious sensitivity to things and others around you, your life path is yet to find its true place. It will come my friend. You are such a wonderful person Dean. I would love you as a friend, but from Ireland all I can offer is a big hug and a present of hope. Take care Dean. Thank you so much for your art and blog.

Dean Grey said...


Hooray Randy!



I don't know that I overcame my fear of crowds as they still make me nervous.

I was just able to overcome that fear on that particular day.



I did the best I could do at that time!



I shall try building on that day!





Bouncin' Barb!

Thanks for the hugs!



I didn't see too much of that, Corey. But hopefully our department did add some class to the parade!



It was indeed NEAT!


Koral & Nandy!

Good advice from you!



Glitter floors?! How could this be?






Did you attend the Chicago Pride Parade as well? I'm kind of curious if any Chicagoans actually saw me.



Thank you for the thoughtful comment!

I will try praising what I did well rather than keep beating myself up for what I didn't do.

P.S.: Now go start a blog of your own!



LOL at you having to reread my post. I almost don't believe it and I'm the one that marched!

And you can be my blogging friend from Ireland. How's that sound?


Everyone's supportive words are very much appreciated!


Mind Of Mine said...

I am so proud of you. Baby steps....the rest will come in time.

bK said...

Good for you, Dean! It's fantastic that you made this huge step! I have never been to any pride parades before. I think I'm still very closeted in that aspect, so deep in the closet that I'm finding Christmas presents (haha, that was quoted from Family Guy and I've been using that a bit). Anywho, participating in pride was a good place to start indeed! Maybe you will meet someone at the next pride.

Dean Grey said...

Mind Of Mine!

"...the rest will come in time."

I hope you're right about that, Ian!



Maybe I'll meet someone at the next pride?

That's not until a year from now, Brody! I've got to be alone until then?



Thanks to both of you gentlemen for chiming in here!


LightChaser said...

Dean wrote:
"I'm kind of curious if any Chicagoans actually saw me."

I'm not sure if I saw you at the parade. What color was your thong?

Shelly said...

This is me standing up and clapping - good for you! I wish I wandered out of my comfort zone - even just a little ... you show a lot of courage, more than you realize, more than you can see - you have the courage to go on, and believe me things will get better - give yourself a chance.


Kerry said...

Good for you, joining that parade, Dean. But (SILLY) nobody meets in an event like that, at least not usually. Parades serve other purposes. When you meet somebody, you probably won't even be looking for him. It will be in an art class, a poetry group, a craft circle, in the museum where you have become a docent, in the zoo where you have volunteered to do some crap job...just sayin'

Still, the parade was a good idea. Cast your net wide;)

Dean Grey said...


It was see-through, Dave.




I will give myself a chance!



I disagree somewhat.

Why wouldn't I meet someone at Pride? I walked around before and after the parade and still didn't catch anyone's eye.

And I've gone to the art museum alone MANY times, take a life drawing class at least once a month, and was a volunteer for the Chicago Park District for about four years.

I just have the worst luck meeting guys!


I appreciate all of you stopping by!


Unknown said...

Hey, I did not meet anyone at either of the Prides attended. Not sure if I should say, "Oh, well" or Fuckity fuck and super shit."

Dean Grey said...


For the most part, I think the ones attending Pride are just looking to get drunk, high, and/or get laid.

So not my scene.