I very rarely acknowledge my birthday beyond mandatory staff cake and some social media posts (though apparently not every year, as I noticed scrolling through this app last night), but it has happened maybe 2 or 3 times in my life. The very first birthday party I threw for myself was in 1999, at the Fuddruckers in Kuwait, where I made sure I’d planned plenty of games and activities so no one would get bored, and we didn’t have to dwell on how it was a combination going-away party as well. The next time I let myself be celebrated was when I turned 25, at Beirut’s Bardo, where a stranger did the lambada between my legs and I pretty much had the time of my life.
But avoiding birthday parties doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate my birthday. In fact, some of my favorite birthdays were just like today, where the attention wasn’t on me at all. Instead, the whole city is celebrating- a blessing of being a Pride month baby.
I had the pleasure of experiencing that mix of anonymity and collective joy the summer I turned 20, my first time travelling alone, and right across the globe as well, spending a day just like today at the NYC Pride Parade. I watched the whole march go by, then followed it to Christopher Street, where the irony of having a paper bowl of tabbouli for lunch was not lost on me.
I love Pride for all the obvious reasons that allies love Pride: solidarity, camaraderie, advocacy, and fun. I also love how it makes getting older feel like being young.
Today is also the 115th anniversary of St. Peter’s Parish, the first church I attended when I landed here five years and one week ago. I had no idea that they were founded so close to my birthday, since June 25 doesn’t always fall on a Sunday. So it was a pleasant surprise to be a part of that after so many Sundays away.
There was also a baptism today, and a commissioning of pilgrims to the holy land, and even Christine was thanked and honored for her time working for the parish—all of which were beautiful and unexpected gifts to share on my birthday.
I’ll always consider this place my spiritual home in Seattle, even when circumstances have made regular attendance almost impossible. St. Peter’s was our first port of call even before I’d received my green card, when I encouraged Christine to reach out when we needed proofs of a change in domicile; St. Peter’s was also the first and only community I’ve ever represented in a Pride parade, carrying their ancient banner across downtown in 2019. I cherish that moment a great deal.
May God bless you and shine upon this fearless place, now and in the 115 years to come.