So today was the day of Houston’s Gay Pride parade. I wasn’t invited to go with anyone, but even if I had, I would say no in a heartbeat because my experiences there have been nothing but awful.
The first year I went I was left alone by friends in front of the Smoothie King on Montrose for a good hour or so. Mind you, I’m barely over 5 feet tall. And I was alone in the middle of the fourth largest city in America.
I was super pissed.
Last year was even worse, I’d say. It was a few months before I was diagnosed and I was in full swing of my symptoms. I knew I shouldn’t have gone from the very beginning, but I just had wanted to have a good time with my friends. Even before I left the house, I had thrown up because I had rushed eating my food because they said they were ready to go.
Once we got there, I was excited to see all the different people in Houston. This one little girl even wanted to take a picture with me because I had dressed up like a unicorn. It was super adorable, but soon the heat index of 107 got to me. I was severely anemic at the time and I didn’t know it, so I was extremely sensitive to the heat. I couldn’t even take a hot shower at the time without getting dizzy and nauseous.
I tried hiding out inside a Half Price Bookstore for the air conditioning and just the general comfort of being surrounded by books until an employee said that I couldn’t sit on the floor. I was too sick to argue, so I left. I wanted to do nothing but go back inside, but I faithfully trailed behind my friends as they saw other people they knew. I ended up just having to run to a trashcan to throw up the rest of what was left in me from lunch.
The worst part of Pride was that every restaurant and fast food place in the area had lines out the door of people who wanted to get in. My friends wanted McDonald’s while I just wanted to be bathed in ice. They got lunch while I got a Sprite.
Looking back, I probably should’ve gotten a water.
I talked to a nice lesbian couple while my friends ate their food. One of them wasn’t reacting very well to the heat either, so we complained about it until they left. I held my cold drink around my neck, hoping it would cool me down. Once they were done eating, we left back into the blazing sun.
We then saw that the crowd fences were being set up, so we started walking to find a good spot. I stood, leaning on the fence for a while until I felt like I had to sit down. Even with the white dress I had on, I found myself sitting on the curb of a Houston street next to a completely full trash can, sipping on my Sprite and eating the ice until it was completely gone. I was beginning to grow nauseous again and there was nothing I could do. I looked around desperately, hoping against all hope that I wasn’t going to throw up.
I had no choice but to throw up next to the trashcan after a brief warning to the people around me. Luckily there was a nice group of older Hispanic women who basically dumped the ice from their cooler on me and tied my hair back within seconds. It was the most refreshed I had felt all day.
Once I was cleaned up, those same women handed me a Gatorade and I sipped on it while the parade finally started. Even though the sun had set, I was starting to feet overheated again because of the people around me. I had to go sit for the rest of the night in the side street watching the rest of the parade alone from afar until a friend came to join me later on.
But as I sat on the curb, slowly drinking the Gatorade, a teenage boy came up to me and said, “You are the saddest unicorn I’ve ever seen.”
I blearily looked up at the voice and saw the concerned faces of him and his friends peering down at me. I had been hoping to be left alone because I didn’t want to be a bother.
The boy held out his hand to me and I saw something small. I took it and saw that it was a tiny toy pink dolphin. I turned it in my hands to closely inspect it.
“It’s a good luck charm,” he said. “Please don’t die.” He and his friends smiled at me and then walked away together to watch the parade.
I’m pretty sure it was that tiny pink dolphin that got me through the rest of the night.