On any given day Waterfront Park is host to a variety of gatherings. Kids’ birthday parties, family picnics, ultimate frisbee, concert series, & the list goes on. You can find every kind of person at the Waterfront.
If you venture to start a conversation, you might find yourself invited into the gathering you stumbled on. I’ve had a hot plate at several pot luck shindigs & jumped into a few grown-up kickball games over the years.
Something about the open arms of the waterfront invites connection. It creates community.
On the third weekend in June the Big Four Lawn became home to one of my favorite community events of the year, and I had a blast every minute I was there.
That Friday afternoon my group plans fell through, so I decided to venture out alone & connect with folks I knew would be out & about. Parking is nuts down there (I need a good bike) so I got a Lyft from my Meriweather home to downtown.
The driver was a lovable mess. He had two GPS going simultaneously on his phone & they did not agree on the best route. So, with Maps & Waze debating in the background I navigated us the back way through Butchertown that pops out right at the base of the bridge. In between directions, we chatted about how I liked my neighborhood, how I should be careful going out alone, his experiences as a driver, & what his daughter looked like so I could say “hi” if I saw her down there. We covered a lot in 10 minutes.
I was dropped off & quickly connected with a new friend, who already felt like an old friend, who introduced me to his best friend. Before long, she felt familiar, too. We watched families eating together, kids playing with bubble guns, people dancing in the street, & groups gathered in matching attire enjoying this kick-off to the weekend. We listened to the first act from afar & then ventured into the event hunting other friends & a cold Diet Coke.
Before long the group turned into just two & we managed to find the shortest line with the best food in the place. Can you say bacon cheddar grilled cheese?
We talked about life, childhood, favorite things, and more. It was easy conversation surrounded by great music, contagious laughter, & joy. So much joy.
We found a spot to sit near the main stage just in time before the major crowd filed in. At least a dozen times my friend introduced me to people he knew passing by. I did the same once or twice. People from his hometown were there, too, & came to sit with us & talked like family for at least a half hour before they headed home.
Our spot was prime real estate for the headlining act & we finished eating just in time to dance. Everywhere you looked people were jumping & singing & taking pictures together. Children on their parents’ shoulders, high school kids out in awkward little groups documenting every moment online, couples huddled together. Love abounding.
It was a celebration of everyone there. It was a toast to our city. It was a place for anyone & everyone. It was electric.
This event in that place created the opportunity for mass connection.
The event was Kentuckiana Pride…& I could not have been prouder to be there.
Now, before you tune out thinking this is turning into a political post, give me a chance to finish. Remember, Yes Louisville is committed to only positive content. We do not engage in political debate or advocate for any particular faith persuasion. We are a site for Louisvillians, by Louisvillians & that means ALL Louisvillians, regardless of whether our personal opinions/beliefs align or not. So, by definition this can’t be a political post. My boss would’ve pulled it, I assure you.
So what kind of post is this?
The answer is simple. It’s a story.
A story about you. About me. About US. The bigger picture Us that exists, but is often forgotten. It’s about our need to acknowledge that we are not so different. We are, at the end of the day, all human, and our lives are equally valuable.
I am a straight single woman & there are people who would say I did not belong at Pride. But they would be wrong. Everyone belonged there.
I went to Pride because I love New Orleans Bounce music (Big Freedia rocked my face off), meeting new people (and hugging them), eating at food trucks (no matter what happens to my stomach), & celebrating my city. Sexual orientation had nothing to do with having an amazing time with my neighbors, even the ones who were technically strangers.
If I hadn’t ventured out that night, I would’ve missed out on connecting with people who left a positive impact on me, even through something as simple as making me giggle in the backseat at their terrible sense of direction & smile at their genuine worry for my safety.
When we get outside of ourselves & risk connection we discover authentic community, regardless of the ways we disagree.
Community is key to overcoming division.
When we recognize & celebrate the lives of others, we can rise together to see the things we do agree on & take action in both big & small ways to make our city a better place for everyone in it.
So, get out there & connect. Go to an event you don’t think you belong at. Start a chat with a stranger. Learn something new. Share a laugh. Be part of creating community.
And don’t forget to tell the stories you make along the way.
*End gallery images courtesy of Kentuckiana Pride Foundation.*