This past weekend, at the Gay Pride Parade, Chicago got a taste of what it is like to see, breathe, and live in hyper-color.
This day, this parade, this experience, is the ultimate celebration of life. People from all over the world gather to celebrate diversity, difference, vulnerability, strength, and love. It's a day where we embrace our alter egos, which enables us to connect with our true selves.
As I have struggled to reemerge into the world, and become reacquainted with normalcy, I have also learned how to let my freak fly.
I have started to become more creative and perhaps bold with what I wear on my head, what I wrap this body in, and what I choose to present to the outside world.
Living in Boystown, a neighborhood that is predominantly gay, has allowed me to feel a sense of "normalcy" during a period that is far from normal. The more eccentric my appearance becomes, the more embraced and accepted I feel by the community around me.
Yesterday, as our float slowly made its way through the thousands of people gathered at the parade, Mel Malka, a fellow survivor, and I twisted out Cancer. We danced, jumped, and moved because we can, because we should, because we must.
Three weeks earlier, we were at a very different type of celebration. We were at the Lurie Cancer Center Survivors' Walk, wearing purple shirts, and celebrating our dance with cancer. Sunday, while wearing somewhat different attire, we continued to dance, to celebrate, to live loudly— because this is how we survive.
As we danced together and separately, I knew we both were thinking about how blessed, how lucky, how "blucked" we were to be there—together— in this sea of moments.
As the parade ended, and the overstimulation began to subside, I decided to take off my wig and publicly reveal my baldness for the first time. I no longer felt vulnerable or ashamed of what lies beneath, but rather felt ready to celebrate my difference, my journey, my alter ego, and my true self. I felt ready to unveil my baldness because those around me were so boldly embracing their own uniqueness.
I feel grateful to the brave souls that showed me how to celebrate and reveal what lies beneath. I will remember and cherish this day for the rest of my life.