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Tower Grove Pride 2023: A much-needed reminder of the healing power of community connection.

This weekend was wonderful and beautiful and lovely in so many ways, but I am physically and mentally exhausted. I am also feeling incredibly emotionally fulfilled and thankful to have experienced the healing power of community connection again.

On Saturday morning, I had the honor of opening Tower Grove Pride weekend co-hosting Outdoor Storytime with St. Louis Public Library and Desiré Declyne in my first appearance as Twinkle. During our planning meetings the library prepared us for various safety scenarios, and let us know that there would be security guards present at the event in case anyone showed up trying to cause harm. Only one anti-storytime person showed up (and left before storytime began), and the situation was handled pretty spectacularly in my opinion:

Stranger: "What's going on here?"

Security, leading them away: "If you walk over here with me I'll tell you all about it"

Stranger, louder: "Are you all really okay with your kids being exposed to this?"

Audience member: "Yeah, that's why we brought them here"

Stranger: "But this is a man dressed like a woman and a woman dressed like a man!"

Desiré: "But who's who??" (Twinkle nearly spat out their water at this point)

Interruption aside, it was a wholesome and fun family-friendly event - we read children's books, sang songs, and did the Hokey Pokey together in the mid-morning sunlight. I read a book about a boy who loves to tap dance before I tap danced to Walking on Sunshine, and one of the kids who got their picture taken with me and Desiré after storytime excitedly told me that they like to tap dance too!

I spent most of the rest of my weekend at the Connect Community Center for Wellbeing booth doing tarot & oracle card readings and petting dogs & cats as they passed by (with their & their humans' consent, of course). I also walked the festival hand-in-hand with my partner, happy cried while I watched the People’s Joy Parade pass by, and had the most delicious fried plantains from FUFU n' Sauce that I still can't stop thinking about.

I also had conversations with old and new friends that opened old wounds that needed processing to be able to heal. Conversations that made my inner child feel seen in new ways. Conversations that reminded me of who the hell I used to believe I could someday be.

By connecting me with community, this weekend also reconnected me with my sense of purpose. I see that among all of the chaos, grief, change, strife, and struggle, there is also abundant space for learning, growth, and healing.

After this weekend, that space is enough for me to feel hopeful and excited for what the future can hold.

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