Yesterday I popped my Pride cherry by attending the biggest, funnest (real word), gayest parade I have ever had the privilege of witnessing.
Dublin city centre closed it's roads and opened its heart to celebrate diversity, mutual respect and sequined frocks.... and to honour the bigotry, ignorance and lack of intelligence that fuelled generations of pointless suffering endured by the LGBT community.
I went with my daughter and her friend, met my son and his pal, spent time with one of my dearest friends sitting on a wall arguing over rainbow wings (they looked better on him), made a bunch of new friends..... and have been running on a high of super-charged love ever since.
Spending the day inhaling an atmosphere energised by goodwill and support is the best antidote to a world that is often miserable, mean-spirited and paralysed by dogma.
Pride is a living testament to the hope that love conquers all.
I couldn't help but realize that a parade of social misfits, same-sex couples and men in dresses delivered the good stuff that religion is supposed to, but doesn't.
The irony also wasn't lost on me that a small bunch of christian protesters complained that Pride was an insult to God, while ignoring the fact that Jesus was a bit of a hippie who hung out with prostitutes, lepers, the mentally ill, women and criminals .... just about anyone living on the fringes of 'civilised' society.
The Big J had no patience for an overbearing establishment who told people what to think, how to live and who to love (and we all know how that worked out for him).
The very people who force their agendas in his name would have hated him back in the day.
If JC was knocking around O'Connell street yesterday he would have been Grand Marshall of the Pride Parade, sticking two sequined fingers to the cruel stupidity imposed by organised religion.
It's not a big leap to draw parallels between the LGBT community and our Autistic loved ones.
Both groups have been isolated, shamed, denied justice and reviled (the most glaring difference being that our kids rely on parents and professionals to advocate on their behalf, while the LGBTers are dazzling in their ability to demonstrate effectively on their own terms. In heels).
When I was a teenager in the 80s, special needs kids were as invisible as anyone LGBT. They were removed from polite society in case they shamed us with their strange behaviour, or reminded us of our frailties and the capricious nature of humanity.
The thirty years between then and now has seen an unprecedented change in our society as the claws of religion are finally losing their grip, people are becoming more educated and social media has exposed us to bigger and better ideas.
About fucking time.
I'm proud of my autistic son.
I'm proud of my friends and family who are no longer afraid to love who they love.
I'm proud to have witnessed that malice and dogma is no match for love.
Pride is my new favourite deadly sin.