For the past couple of years I have marched in Chicago’s Gay Pride parade (is it officially called LGBTQ+ Parade now?) with the NGPA, or National Gay Pilots Association. Even though I don’t fly for the airlines, the NGPA is welcoming of us pilots that like to fly “low and slow” and marching with this group has been very empowering for me.
Earlier today I remarked on Twitter that when I was a young gay lad I felt being gay was something that was not compatible with being a pilot. This was mostly due to my internal homophobia, as while I was out of the closet at a relatively young age for the time (the mid 1980s), I still saw being gay as a “less than”. I figured you couldn’t be a “less than” to become a pilot.
Clearly I was wrong.
I started seeking out the NGPA in the late 1990s and early 2000s when I first started thinking seriously of becoming an airline pilot, but I was still get a solid foothold on my career and finances and all that, so it wasn’t until the early 2010s that I was able to take to the skies. I became a member of the NGPA as soon as I passed my student pilot medical.
Since traditional Pride Celebrations have been cancelled all over the country, the NGPA decided to have a virtual Pride celebration on Zoom, and the festivities took place today. It was really well done; Ongina from RuPaul’s Drag Race is an honorary member of the NGPA Family and she performed, as well as a couple of other members doing the same, interspersed with videos made for the event, contributions from a few airlines, and commentary and information from the President and Vice-President of the organization. We also raised $20K during the event, furthering the coffers that fund the multitude of NGPA Scholarships that are awarded annually.
Aside from the pandemic, this year’s Pride festivities have focused on activism, with focus on #BlackLivesMatter and all of the other struggles our society faces today. I am proud to be a member of the National Gay Pilots Association. And with the timber and tone of this year’s Pride, I feel more compelled than ever to do my part in getting the country back on course and recognize the value ALL of us bring to the equation. Not since the AIDS crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s have I felt the urge to contribute to the activism needed to make things better.
After the NGPA event wrapped up, Earl and I watched the Pride Celebration on Chicago’s ABC 7. The news media here in The Windy City usually gives live coverage of the Pride Parade and associated events; ABC 7 broadcasted a special today, and it was very well done.
I’m happy to see technology used in such a positive way.
Happy Pride, everyone! Let’s keep using this momentum to make the world a better place for all!