Edit: I know, I know. Technically I missed the day of the anniversary but heck, I’ve been procrastinating more than I should be. That’s honesty for you.
March 6th, 2013. Vancouver, BC. It rained like the Devil in the days before I left. I was a mess. It was the end of a relationship, followed by the dispersal of friendships, family issues, and being lost and confused. There had been a realization that to stay dormant was to go insane and admittedly it was not until later, perhaps much later, that the goal of my journey had came to mind.
One year later, I’m back at home and beneath the pounding psytrance of another of Vancouver’s nightly events, surrounded by candy kids and pseudo-goth cliques, I’m in the company of old friends and new ones. Periodically I’m approached, recognized, and greeted as an inspiration – there’s since been much compliments, sometimes with tears in people’s eyes and faces, and a steady stream of messages. My reputation precedes me. I’m known throughout some circles and occasionally hailed as a hero, a champion for the rights of LGBT and the alt community.
I excuse myself during those moments, step outside, and smoke my cigarettes for a while. Sometimes I admit, I enjoy the attention, the fame that came along the completion of my quest and not to mention the insurmountable support I’d gained. For a while, according to the wisdom of the senior members of the neighboring BDSM crowd, this result was inevitable – I lost myself to the glory, relished it, along with the complimentary cigarettes and drinks that would quickly follow.
Apparently even the outside world, the mainstream, the “vanilla” crowd, has heard of my seven month odyssey. It’s frankly a bit more overwhelming than I’d expected. Heck, in the first month of my return, a bus driver and I chatted for a while before he mentioned having heard something about a ‘pride flag bearing Vancouverite’ on the news. Needless to say, I got off the bus and avoided everyone after that for a while.
The truth is my endeavor was not always so selfless. The purpose of my journey was initially selfish because who hasn’t thought about getting away from everything once in a while? Somehow it was not long after the interactions, from having slowly realized that my inner conflict was not entirely significant from that of others, even less troubled than theirs, that the quest itself began that much more important.
Since then I have been asked repeatedly what truly inspired me to fulfill that seemingly impossible goal. The answers quite frankly have been numerous and simply put there isn’t any singular response to that. In reality, the motivation itself came from a vast multitude of reasons, the sort that can only be self-realized through the lengthy amount of time spent in contemplation. The reasons that any one individual should discover to any ambition should always make sense to them alone, no matter how alien it may come across to others.
That very same belief for integrity, ironically, was what set me off in the first place. I had compromised enough the year before in action and in thought that I had slipped into a lengthy depression. When it dawned upon me that I had merely lost sight of my passion, that it had turned itself into a destructive fury, it felt only fitting that I should pave way towards a new beginning.
My valediction came in the form of the compassionate and the sincere from the numerous variety of total strangers to the very culture I had become so fond and familiar with. I realized within the solidarity of the road only the goodness that inherently exists in others. It was that belief alone, that human decency should triumph, that spurred me on towards the journey’s completion.
The wish I made in New York is one that is universal. It is simply for the betterment of those around me, for everyone, both in the past and at present, that everyone should find within themselves the capacity to accept their own identity, to realize their strengths, and most of all to embrace everyone.
Time and time again I had been given the opportunity to return, go home, slowly rebuild my life from where I had left it. Instead I chose to pursue that goal simply because I had promised myself, for the very first time in my life, that it was something I believed in. That very promise, fueled by the only answers that made sense, pushed me forward and against all odds enabled me to grow as a person.
That gift, that awful realization, brought me to the very eyes of Liberty, and against an orange-pink dusk, I felt blessed in ways that defies the very boundaries of faith and institution. It enabled me to raise my flag and join the ranks of those before me, to exhibit pride and identity against the face of ignorance and intolerance, and to take the mantle of a flag carrier.
One year later, I have returned, and while much of the experience remains up in the open, enough that I am writing a memoir for it, there remains a great deal of work to do. I do not wish to sound self-righteous – these realizations and conflicts I endured are not unique to any one person, rather the very roots of what makes a person alive by definition.It is not always forgiving or plentiful, an incredible and arguably reckless adventure, but there is growth and there lies within it the discovery of a purpose.
The timing of my odyssey could not have been more critical. Since the time it began, there has been debate over marriage equality, over ignorance, and a widespread battle against oppression and discrimination.
I’d seen it firsthand on the road, the xenophobia, the class discrimination, and most worrying is how these fears are simply misplaced when there can be so much more to be done for one another. Each individual has the right to pursue their own happiness yet why should there be conflict against others who are essentially after the very same thing? I believe also in human progress but fear the day when different should become dangerous.
In the end, my place is here, raising that flag against some unfathomable opponent, reminding both myself and everyone of the strength of communal solidarity. The lonesome road saw to that after all.
For if a lost soul should find it in themselves to take a stand, both for themselves and for the ones they love, that they should become patient in all matters, to question their own beliefs and most of all fight the good fight – asked to do it again, I would in an instant.
May you find yourself on a journey someday and within it, share that road with honor, integrity, and respect.
– The Masked Deviant
Progress on the memoirs have been slow. Returning to memories when it’s sunny and bright outside can be a test of dedication. Writing can be a terribly isolating business.